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What is NFC Technology – How Does it Work and What are its Applications?

NFC is causing quite a buzz in the techno world. For those who have never heard anything about this; NFC (Near Field Communication) can be defined as a form of wireless connectivity technology that provides for a convenient short-range communication between two electronic devices. NFC allows to conveniently connect various devices to offer rapid and easy communication.

The NFC technology is compatible on a number of devices including; smartphones, laptops and other devices. Once the technology is fully equipped in some of these devices, it creates a form of connections that allows the devices to share information with nothing other than just a simple swipe or tap. Do you remember the tap-to-pay types of credit cards? Guess what! The NFC technology is the one responsible for the revolutionary mobile payment technologies.

NFC Tech

In some cases, NFC is used interchangeably with RFID meaning Radio Frequency Identification. In reality though, NFC is a newer version/ a mere extension of RFID. There are a number of features differentiating these two kinds of technology:

a) RFID offers waves with very long ranges whereas NFC limits the wave range to within 4 inches. The ability of NFC to offer limited range of communication makes it perfect and secure for applications in area requiring paying for items or logging in securely to a certain location.

b) NFC is also known for its ability to allow for a two way communication meaning that you can easily exchange data between two devices instantaneously. With NFC, it is much easier to transfer photos and contacts between devices. RFID is slightly different as it only uses a one way reading of technology.

The dominance of the technology in the newer devices can never be overemphasized. It is a well-known fact that nowadays, majority of the smartphone if not all them come fully equipped with the NFC technology. The list is certainly exhaustive: ranging from Google Nexus variants to HTC phones. However, not all smartphones are equipped with this technology. The recently released iPhone 5 is one of them. It is believed that Apple is comfortable with its Passbook feature hence they do not feel the need to equip their devices with NFC.

How does it work?

The idea behind NFC technology on smartphones is to allow for the replacement of your cash and credit cards. In most cases, the technology is associated with the ”mobile wallet” concept. The NFC technology works in such a way that it allows the consumer to make a purchase with a single tap or a wave of your phone. With a single tap, you can pay for your groceries or even redeem coupons or offers.

A more realistic example can be derived from the partnership between Google Wallet and MasterCard PayPass. In such a case, as a consumer, you can use Google Wallet to easily store all your major credit and debit cards. In exchange, you get a ”virtual MasterCard” that allows you to pay for your purchases wherever and whenever the PayPass Scanners are.

NFC Door lock

While the main usage of NFC is for making payments but there are some other fields where NFC Technology is starting to evolve such as door technology. This involves installing keyless door lock on your door which allows you to lock and unlock your door safely using a remote control or smartphone when placed in the field of door reader. This means you no longer you have to worry about carrying keys with yourself. In case you don’t have your remote or smartphone with you, you could even use a unique PIN which can be entered into the keypad of your door. This company here seem to be leading the march with NFC door technology.

Applications of NFC

The technology has a number of uses or applications including:

  • Touch and Go – it can be applied on applications such as access control, transport and in ticketing of events. In such cases, the user only needs to bring the device with the tickets close to the reader. In addition to this, the technology can also be implemented on data capture applications to help with picking up of Internet URL from a smart label that is found on a poster.
  • Touch and confirm –it can be used in applications involving mobile payment to help with the confirmation of a user interaction. In most cases it is used in scenarios where the user has to confirm his interaction by entering a password or by simply accepting the transaction.
  • Touch and connect – NFC has the ability of allowing two phones to be connected and exchange information. Here, the two connected NFC-enabled devices can allow for the transfer of data, allow for downloading of music and even provide for the synchronization of the address books.
  • Touch and explore – devices that are equipped with NFC technology offer a consumer more than one possible function. As the user, it’s up to you to explore the device and its capabilities in order to figure out the services it is capable of offering.
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