- What is NFC (short for Near-Field Communications) ?
Near field communication, or NFC, is a set of short-range wireless technologies, typically requiring a distance of 4 cm or less. NFC operates at 13.56 MHz and at rates ranging from 106 kbit/s to 848 kbit/s. NFC always involves an initiator and a target; the initiator actively generates an RF field that can power a passive target. This enables NFC targets to take very simple form factors such as tags, stickers, key fobs, or cards that do not require batteries. NFC peer-to-peer communication is also possible, where both devices are powered.
- So how do these devices work? (skip this if you’re not interested)
- Passive Communication Mode: The Initiator device provides a carrier field and the target device answers by modulating the existing field. In this mode, the Target device may draw its operating power from the Initiator-provided electromagnetic field, thus making the Target device a transponder.
- Active Communication Mode: Both Initiator and Target device communicate by alternately generating their own fields. A device deactivates its RF field while it is waiting for data. In this mode, both devices typically have power supplies.
- Why all the hype? What can we do with it?
- Card emulation: the NFC device behaves like an existing contactless card (think transit passes, etc)
- Reader mode: the NFC device is active and reads a passive RFID tag, for example for interactive advertising (this would KILL/OWN QR codes)
- P2P mode: two NFC devices communicating together and exchanging information (e.g. file / data transfer – would give a whole new meaning to “giving” files to other users)
- Can my phone get NFC?
Short Answer: Yes (but NO chances are it doesn’t have it already at the time of writing this).
Longer Answer: Yes, it is, but under certain conditions and with some limitations. NFC requires both hardware, as well as software modifications, so you can’t just download an NFC application to your phone, if that’s what you had in mind. However, there are both NFC stickers (passive) and also much more promising microSD NFC devices, so they would go in your phone’s microSD slot (if it has one).
- What about existing technologies? What will happen to RFID and Bluetooth?
The idea is that NFC will be used for pairing, and Bluetooth will then take care of the wireless data transfer. This makes a very interesting case for Bluetooth Marketing, as you can imagine, as the main criticism towards it has been the way it can be used as SPAM.
Also note that some existing RFID readers, can have their software upgraded to support NFC, so the technology for it is already out there…