How does NFC work?

What is NFC?

NFC (Near Field Communication) in simple terms is a technology that allows for the exchange of data between devices within a short-distance, typically 10cm or less. It touches on the RFID (Radio-frequency identification) technology which technology makes use of electromagnetic induction to enable the transmission of information over short distances. RFID is primarily used in keeping track of goods in places such as superstores, warehouses or shipping companies. NFC on the other hand is broken down to enable its use by the everyday people through smartphones, tablets or laptops. With NFC, data such as contact information, videos or photos can be securely passed from one NFC enabled device to another. This technology is also taking off as a secure alternative to credit cards.

Comparison with Bluetooth

Much as both technologies (Bluetooth and NFC) entail the transfer of data, there are differences between the two. With NFC, there is no need to manually pair or discover the other device(s) that are meant to be communicated with. The NFC technology works in such a way that communication is automatically established between two NFC-enabled devices as soon as they come within a certain distance of each other (four inches).
Much as both NFC and Bluetooth allow devices to have wireless communication over short distances, NFC is only capable of covering distance of around four inches while Bluetooth can reach distance of thirty feet and over. The huge distance covered by Bluetooth may be seen as an advantage until the issue of security pops up. Someone can easily hack into and steal information from a Bluetooth enabled device whereas with the NFC one, the person would have to be really close to you to do so.
To have a better understanding of NFC in comparison to Bluetooth, let’s have a look at some of their advantages and disadvantages:

  • With NFC, power consumption is kept to a minimum, unless there is a need to power a passive source that is also not powered such as an NFC tag, then more power will be required in comparison to a Bluetooth transmission.
  • Since there is no manual pairing of devices required, NFC use is easier compared to Bluetooth use.
  • Owing to the secure advantage of short distance communication, NFC can be utilized in making secure payments. In addition, no user data is made available during the connection setup thus leaving the user anonymous.
  • NFC takes away the need to have to sift through other available devices, especially when the communication between devices is being made in a crowded place.
  • NFC has the potential of letting users turn to Bluetooth if the need arises. All the user has to do is connect via NFC with the other device and then turn to a Bluetooth signal without there being a break in the connection.
    Ultimately, both technologies are capable of working seamlessly together, especially with the introduction of the Bluetooth low energy (BLE) which help curb power consumptions in Bluetooth technology.

How can I use NFC?

Technically, NFC has the potential of taking over a number of things from your wallet to the card that takes you places. Think of your business card, your hotel room card, your public transportation card or even your boarding pass for a plane. In essence, anything that can benefit from short distance communication between two devices!
For now though, NFC is popping up as a means to share data between two NFC-enabled devices. Information shared could be contact information, photos or videos. NFC is also being utilized in making secure payments via credit cards. All you have to do is wave your NFC-enabled device next to another NFC-enabled device and let the communication begin.

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8 Responses

  1. Jasmine2015 says:

    I hope to see more applications of the NFC. I have been wanting to buy blue tooth headphones for my phone. Using NFC does sounds secure when trying to make credit card payments.

    • Tipes says:

      Yes, I’ve read your article on apple pay vs. samsung pay and I have been wondering what NFC was. This was very informative and to be honest my blue tooth head phone is awesome! However, I still don’t feel that its secure enough for me to trust it with my money. I’m still having second though about credit card, I might have trust issue. Nevertheless, NFC will definitely make lives much easier. 🙂

  2. Juliano says:

    NFC sounds like the future. I heard that there are now NFC chips that you can press to activate other functions. Perhaps one day our phones will replace our wallets. Wonder if NFC scanners will be more common jn the future. Do they offer encryption?

  3. appdata says:

    Thank you for your post Serdar, it was very informative. NFC technology is extremely useful and it’s only getting more and more common. In the future, it could be used any time devices need to communicate with each other over short distances, so like you said, we could replace many of our cards with it, and our phones could be our wallets.

    Realistically, I don’t think that Bluetooth, NFC and other close communication will be able to replace wifi and the internet for sharing data. Most of the time, we share photos by social media or email so people far away from us can see them, and to keep a backup on the cloud. I see that NFC and Bluetooth will be able to completely change the way we do simple, everyday things that we take for granted.

  4. Aaron says:

    I love using NFC! Certainly more secure than Bluetooth. I was able to connect to my friend’s Bluetooth headphones in class without him knowing that it was me. I couldn’t imagine trying to send sensitive data through that type of connection.

  5. Khatib22 says:

    Honestly I feel that NFC provides a quicker way to do things as apposed to Bluetooth. With Bluetooth, you have to sit there within range of both devices, pair them, and on top of that, enter the pass code for each respective device. With NFC, it’s much easier! If you’ve seen any of the Samsung Galaxy commercials, you would know with just the tap of your phones you can send virtually anything from a webpage to a contact. Although right now Bluetooth predominantly is used in the tech field, I feel that once most devices get NFC capabilities, (I’m looking at you Apple) that it will take over Bluetooth.

  6. troutman says:

    Great explanation! A lot of people don’t use NFC, but it’s vital for mobile payments and sharing across devices. I don’t use it that often myself. I’ve still found it incredibly useful for those random moments I turned it on and used a given feature, though. For whatever reason, the recently released OnePlus Two doesn’t have NFC because the company said that nobody uses it. That might be true to some degree, but that’ll change soon enough!

  7. AshwinMahesh says:

    I have an NFC enabled smartphone and I can see how this can easily replace my wallet. But I feel that the markets haven’t caught up with NFC technology yet, though I am in one of the most advanced cities of the world. For most of the transactions that I make I hardly have to even take my credit card out of my wallet, I just need to tap my wallet. I cannot describe how convenient this is compared to taking your credit card out of your wallet, handing it over for swiping and then sign on a piece of paper. But I have also read articles on how easily this can be exploited by someone standing very close to you and activating a hand held card reading machine especially in crowded buses and trains.

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