Along with traditional Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, NFC technology is very popular in modern smartphones. What is it for and what is its peculiarity? We understand this material.
What is NFC
The main essence of NFC technology is encrypted in its name. NFC is an acronym for Near Field Communication. An ordinary user may have associations with a familiar infrared port – they are similar to a small communication radius. NFC works at a distance of no more than 10 cm, and the maximum data transfer rate is modest by today’s standards 424 kbps.
The technology is based on the induction of a magnetic field and allows you to quickly connect devices to each other, but for transferring large files it is better to use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It is quite simple to implement NFC in devices: an induction coil generates an electromagnetic field in one device, and a coil in a second device, which is under the influence of the field of the first, creates an electric current, which is subsequently converted into a signal.
Thus, the devices alternately create electromagnetic fields and exchange data, realizing an active mode of operation. In passive mode, only one of the devices generates an electromagnetic field. For example, this is how cards work.
The range of use of devices with NFC is huge, and this is not an exaggeration at all. The technical limitations of the NFC interface make it pointless to transfer large files – the speed is too low, and the transmission distance is scanty. But in return, we get an almost instant connection of devices and the ability to transfer contacts, notes and coordinates on the map.
NFC allows you to use modern smartphones and smart watches instead of bank cards and loyalty cards. You just need to download the appropriate application and link the card to the service. To pay, you need to bring the smartphone with the back panel to the terminal, wait a few seconds and, lo and behold, the operation is completed. No paper money or plastic cards. Cafes, restaurants, supermarkets and various shops – the list goes on. Shopping becomes much more convenient and takes less time.
Smartphones and smartwatches with NFC can be used instead of cards at ATMs, even if the card itself is left at home. If you do not use gadgets, it is also more convenient not to insert bank cards, but to attach them to a special NFC mark. In this case, it is less likely that you will leave, leaving the card inside the ATM. The authorization method does not affect further work with the ATM. After you have attached a card or gadget, a standard menu will open, with which you can work in the usual way. The downside is that not all ATMs come with NFC technology.
Along with a bank card, NFC can be used as a means of identity verification. For example, a smartphone can display data from an electronic passport, driver’s license, student ID or work pass. This is convenient, since the smartphone is always at hand, and the document can be left at home (if the law allows the use of its electronic versions). The phone will display not only the document number, but also the owner’s photo or signature. And some educational institutions allow not only entering various premises, but also paying for food or other services using an NFC document.
In the future, it is planned to develop this direction in the field of hotel and tourism business. Using NFC, you can open your hotel room door, get your boarding pass, and check in your baggage at the airport.
This point is closely related to the previous one. NFC can open door locks and many other devices, verifying the identity of the owner of the device. Thus, a smartphone can act as a digital key for a car. Considering that NFC works at a distance of no more than 10 cm, its reliability in the transmission of encrypted data required for access is quite high. At the very least, intercepting an NFC signal will be more difficult than retrieving data from a car alarm key fob. You can use your smartphone instead of a pass to the office. So, by attaching the device, it will be possible to enter work without a special card, the data of which will be saved by the application.
Reception and transmission of data
The next obvious use case for NFC is data transfer. Naturally, not large files, but, for example, links to web pages, coordinates and routes on the map, contacts and links to applications. However, the transfer of photos or videos is not prohibited, it just takes too long.
You may notice the NFC logo on some promotional posters or storefront windows. If you bring a smartphone to them, links to a site with product descriptions, discount coupons, promotional offers and other information will be transferred to it.
As a rule, the NFC module is located at the back of the devices and it is enough to lean the smartphones against each other or against the NFC tag, after which the data exchange starts in active mode. Plus – the high speed of connection of two devices, but the data transfer speed is low, so NFC is not widely used in this role.
The use of NFC chips (tags) provides many options for implementation. Labels can serve as a substitute for barcodes on a product: by leaning your smartphone against, you can, say, find out detailed information about a product.
NFC allows you to set various commands. For example, if you put a device on the tag in the bedroom, it will go into silent mode and activate the alarm in the morning. In the car, the tag can turn on maps and geolocation, as well as start the engine. At Home – Connect guests to your home Wi-Fi without manually entering a long password. Having fantasized, you can come up with a large number of different commands and program the device for any situation.
Connecting other devices
NFC will help you quickly connect headphones, speakers and even a TV to, for example, display video on it. Each vendor that supports this feature offers a different way to implement it.
For example, to connect Sony TVs to a mobile device, just touch the gadget to the remote control. In the case of LG, you need to touch the Tag On sticker with your smartphone, and Samsung suggests putting the gadget next to the TV.
Connecting headphones or speakers is even easier. To do this, you need to enable pairing mode on them, and then bring the smartphone with NFC enabled. It will display information about the newly found device and offer to connect it.
Finally, the new NFC standard enables wireless charging of the device. It got the name WLC. As you would expect, charging will operate over a short distance and will initially receive a small amount of power – up to 1 W. Due to the low power, you cannot use NFC to charge smartphones. However, later, when the power of the WLC grows to at least 10 W, the technology will be used to recharge not only phones, but also tablets. And to recharge smartwatches or wireless headphones, the current 1W is enough.
As we saw earlier, NFC technology has many advantages, but there are also disadvantages.
If the device is stolen, you can also lose funds in the mobile bank.
A huge number of scenarios for using labels
Low power consumption, and in cases with tags – no own power supply at all
Small module size
NFC technology is a prime example of how modern ideas can make everyday life easier. You no longer need to worry about leaving your wallet with money, pass, bonus card or travel pass at home – they are always at hand and in your smartphone. And by setting the necessary commands, using NFC, you can automate household and work processes.
Just a couple of years ago, this technology was the domain of only flagship smartphones. But the number of NFC-enabled devices is growing steadily, and the time is not far off when there will be no devices on the market without this technology, and we can no longer imagine life without NFC.