Near Field Communication (NFC) is a wireless communication technology a bit like WiFi or Bluetooth. It allows the transfer of data between two devices, such as a mobile phone and NFC tag. Typically, NFC is used to pass data from one device to the other. So you might use NFC to pass data from an NFC enabled mobile phone to another NFC enabled mobile phone, from a mobile phone to a payment terminal or from an NFC tag to a mobile phone.
A very rapidly growing number of things. Current applications include contactless payments, marketing and advertising, security and access control, product identification, location identification, mobile phone task launcher apps, events and many, many more.
And the great part is that all of these applications require just an NFC enabled mobile phone to get started.
The beauty of NFC is in its simplicity. Once the tag has been encoded with the desired information or action, the tag is ready to use. The user simply touches the back of the phone against the tag. This will launch the URL, application or service encoded. No lining up cameras with barcodes, no downloading apps just to scan, no fuss. Simple.
NFC technology works only at close distances - typically around a few centimeters. This close range makes NFC perfect for interaction and means that tags can't 'accidently' be read or used for unwanted tracking. The 'tap' action is therefore quite specific and part of the appeal of NFC as opposed to other longer range RFID technologies.
NFC is used as the 'connector' between a mobile phone and a payment terminal device. NFC has a number of significant advantages, not least of which is it's ability to only work in close proximity.
Most analysts project that mobile based payment technology is going to arrive soon in a big way. Using a phone to pay is not only convenient and simple, but allows for two way interaction such as 'virtual' coffee shop loyalty cards and similar ideas.
Almost all new smartphones now have NFC built in. In fact, nine out of ten of the top mobile manufacturers have now adopted NFC. Apple's iPhone is the only major smartphone without NFC support. See our NFC enabled smartphones list for more information.
Think of an NFC tag as a really small memory device, like a USB stick, but with an antenna attached so it can send it's data wirelessly. It contains no batteries and gets all it's power from just being close to the mobile phone. Commonly, a tag will be a sticker, perhaps the size of a postage stamp. But it can also be embedded into keyfobs, wristbands and lots of other things. NFC Tags explained >
Get hold of some stickers or a starter pack and have a go. All RapidNFC products are tried and tested and you can get lots more information on these pages.
If you have a particular application in mind then send us an email or give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7836 8566 and we'll give you straightforward and no-nonsense advice.