We are all familiar with one or another form of near field communication enabled devices. What is near field communication and applications? Near field communication is a technology to transfer information between devices in close proximity using RF signals. NFC technology offers wide range of features from keyless access to smart tags for medical applications.
The option to implement and embedded into credit cards, smart phones and other wearable devices make NFC technology one of the most convenient one. Let’s take a look on the NFC technology overview and what are the applications and future are of near field communication.
Near field communication was developed by Sony, Nokia and Philips; their combined forum monitors and regulates the NFC standard. Near field communication operates at low power low frequency range.
Frequency: 13.56 MHz Range: 0 to 10 CM
Specification: ISO/IEC 14443 (For smart cards which store information) and ISO/IEC 18000-3 (For RFID tags in smart device)
Applications of Near Field Communication
1. Smart Cards
Payment using NFC integrated smart cards offers easier payment compared to conventional multiple step payment process. Top payment services like Visa and MasterCard are offering NFC embedded smart cards to customers.
NFC integrated smart cards can be used for fast payments at grocery shops, parking tickets, adding shopping points, redeem coupons with just a single tap of the card. All the major banks around the globe offers smart cards with NFC chips integrated.
2. E-wallet (payment using smart phone)
Cashless payment system using mobile devices became popular in the beginning of this decade and more services are offering cashless payments for customer’s convenience. Using smart phone applications, payments can be made using a simple tap or waving the card within the proximity.
Service providers can integrate payment option into smart phones using an NFC tag embedded inside the device. Apple pay, Google wallet (Android pay) and Samsung pay are the most popular among smartphone payment systems.
Data transfer using smart device are possible using NFC technology like Android beam. Two users can share documents, photos, resumes and business cards by just waving their smart phone.
3. Smart Ticketing
Integrated smart chips can be used to replace traditional ticketing systems with smart tickets for airlines, train and bus tickets etc.… NFC tags can be used for Smart posters, movie tickets, ticket to concerts, advertisements, flyers and information links.
Customers will be able to access a reserved area or activate tickets by just tapping NFC tags located at assigned location. More information can be found by just scanning the smart tag.
4. Medicine and Healthcare
NFC integrated system can be used in medicine and healthcare activities. NFC offers greater accuracy and convenience in prescribing medicine, easier check-in, payments, checking status of patients, tracking records by embedding NFC tags to patient’s charts.
NFC integrated devices can be easily paired and configured. Medical professionals can easily check schedules and access medical devices and equipment.
Future of NFC is healthcare are very promising and many companies have already started investing. Diagnostic tags are under development for monitoring medical conditions like temperature variations, blood glucose level fluctuations etc.…
5. Keyless Access
Keyless access is one of the familiar applications of near field communications today. NFC’s convenience and easy to implement feature make it a popular choice. NFC and RFID tags can be used for access to doors and restricted areas with an auto detect feature. It can be used to replace access keys, identification badges and for easier access to cars and other vehicles.
Smart tags are used in modern manufacturing industries to identify each product from it’s different process stages within the company, packaging, transportation and tracking of products during shipment. Unique identifications numbers allow manufacturers to efficiently manage products in case of return during warranty period for replacement, service and maintenance.
7. Logistics and Shipping
NFC and RFID tags can be conveniently used in logistics and shipping industry. Tracking and scanning of goods using smart tags make the system smart, errorless and efficient.
8. Smart Inventory Management
Retail shops and large scale super markets can make use of smart RFID tags for better management of inventories in their system. Smart inventory management software can give a real-time update on product details for customers, items in their inventory stock and it could trigger automatic order if a particular item has low quantity. Vendors will get an update of items with high demand and better service can be provided.
9. Theft control
Another attractive use of RFID tags are theft control. Valuable things can be protected using smart tags. Objects embedded with smart tags will trigger if it pass by RFID proximity (active area where RFID transmitter is installed).
10. NFC Information Tags
Similar to a QR code scanning using Smartphone camera, users can access information by an NFC tags. If someone wants to access information about a product or services, it can be accessed by just tapping their phone on the NFC smart tag.
These cost effective NFC smart tags (smart sticker) can be easily pasted on metal casing, stick on walls or any surfaces.
Future applications of Near Field Communication
1. Smart Home
Using NFC and RFID technology we are able to customize and program a particular application using our smart phone. By just activating an NFC tag we can control our household equipment, app launching, access/lock doors, set alarm functions or any particular task using smart phone.
2. Internet of Things and 5G
IoT and 5G opens window of opportunities for new technologies to emerge. NFC enabled device will be required in IoT and 5G enabled networks for easier implementation and efficiency.
3. Integrated Smartphone Applications
Smart RFID tags can be used to configure with smartphone applications like receiving points for a loyalty program, membership access, entry to a restricted area and many more customized applications.
NFC tags will play inevitable role in future smart devices for more integrated functions, smart transportation, aviation industry, shipping, manufacturing industry for automation of particular tasks. Integrating NFC technology with our modern data communication and transaction process ensures convenience, time saving, energy efficiency and most importantly improved security.