• Actionable
  • Timely
  • Informative
  • Executive
  • Strategic

Issue 26 What is Near Field Communication?

Near Field Communication (NFC) allows wireless and short-range (10 cm or less) data transfer between supported devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Type Technology
Topic Internet of Things
Urgency Currently affecting your business
Maturity Currently at its full potential
Viability Currently successfully deployed
Impact Making large improvements in multiple industries

Overview

What it is: Near field communication (NFC) allows wireless and short-range (10 cm or less) data transfer between supported devices such as tablets and smartphones.

What it does: NFC uses either active or passive devices for the transmission and receiving of the data signal. Passive devices use small transmitters such as tags for sending data and do not need a power source. Active devices liaise with passive devices and each other and receive and send data. It allows maximum privacy and is affordable.

How it works: An NFC chip uses radio waves and electromagnetic induction phenomenon for wirelessly sending data. It deploys Tesla’s wireless power transfer concept for communication. NFC sends current from the solenoid in the sending device to the coil in the receiving device through inductive coupling. NFC does not need the internet for two-way communication.

Why it matters: Industries with applications using persistent communication with tags at their process points can reduce costs, by deploying NFC based phones rather than the traditional handheld readers. NFC also controls forgery by providing product authentication, manufacturing control, and tracing and tracking of applications securely and reliably. When embedded in products, NFC can provide a unique ID, allowing tracking from manufacturing to consumption, and data gathered can be shared via the cloud.

What to do about it: Understand the numerous applications of NFC and review existing processes oriented around physical items or locations, to see whether NFC might create efficiencies or new opportunities for your enterprise. to better serve customers and support business objectives. Consider deploying this technology to provide more convenience and secure payment choices to customers and to improve customer experience.

NFC In Action

NFC can be used to allure new customers by using NFC to enhance transactional experiences related to location-based incentives, social media engagement, or by suggesting credit options based on awareness of digital coupons available within a user’s digital wallet. NFC can:

  • Enable digital wallets allowing users to leave real-world wallets at home.
  • Allow phones to act as an airline boarding pass.
  • Enable real-time notifications for planned repair schedules in maintenance systems.
  • Be employed in devices such as sprinklers, extinguishers, and elevators.
  • Offer shoppers incentives like collecting loyalty points with NFC-enabled smartphones.
  • Offer free music and video downloads in marketing initiatives
  • Allow virtual swapping of business cards.
  • Track healthcare care workers’ patient home visits. Information is shared in real-time along with monitoring arrival and departure.
  • Enable parking meter payments, keyless entry and more.

The Science Behind NFC

An NFC chip uses radio waves and electromagnetic induction phenomenon for wirelessly sending data. It deploys Tesla’s wireless power transfer concept for communication. NFC sends current from the solenoid in the sending device to the coil in the receiving device through inductive coupling. Furthermore, NFC works at a transmission frequency of 13.56 MHz and information can transfer at speeds of 424, 212, or 106 Kb/s.

Advantages

  • Versatile, as NFC supports a range of different services and industries.
  • Convenient and secure, particularly when applied to mobile wallets.
  • Enhances customer experience.
  • Low or zero power consumption.
  • More secure.
  • No internet requirements.

Disadvantages

  • Short data transmission range of around 10 cm or less.
  • Slow data transfer speed when compared with Bluetooth.
  • Can expose smartphones to virus attacks.
  • Can be more expensive than QR codes which can be equally valid for certain use cases such as location tracking, such as when security guards scan QR codes at specific locations to show they have surveyed an area.
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