What is NFC Technology? A Complete Guide and its Possibilities
NFC, a new buzzword has now grabbed everybody’s attention these days and is now becoming a must to have feature, on our next new smartphone. Earlier, few months ago people don’t even know what is NFC or Near Field Communication technology is used for ? but, the recent launch of Nokia’s NFC enabled smartphones has tremendously helped this brand new tech to gain lots of momentum to its awareness campaign that makes people curious to know more and more about it. Hence, today we’ve composed a complete guide to NFC technology, which is believed to kill your questions such as :
What is NFC Technology, exactly?
- Does NFC cost any extra charges?
- Is it like yet another network based payment service?
- How it’s different from other wireless tech, like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and others?
- And the most funny of all- How much force do i need to apply to tap our phones? as shown in the commercials
Well, to be honest that’s not funny at all, because its obvious that people needs more and more clarification before they gets a NFC enabled smartphones. They want to explore the ways NFC can change their means of sharing digital stuff, its secureness while making payments and other of its capabilities. So first of all, you should know what its NFC and its history.
NFC Technology and its History?
NFC is a short form for Near Field Communication, a technology that allows similar or NFC enabled devices to communicate with each other either by touching or bringing them into closer proximity – all wirelessly and is usually done within not more than a few centimeters (requires 4 Cm or less distance) up to 10 centimeters, typically.
The communication can also be established between a NFC device with an unpowered NFC chip, which is called as tag. For example a movie poster outside a theater. So in this case your smartphone would be the initiator and that movie poster would be the passive objective. Once, you touch the smartphone to this tag, the information related to the movie, such as trailer, cast & crew info, timings will be received to your NFC device.
In 2004, NXP the co-inventor of NFC, along with Nokia, Philiphs and Sony jointly founded the NFC forum to promote sharing, pairing and transaction between NFC enabled devices plus it formulates and certifies devices that meets the specifications of NFC standards. Now we think that’s more than enough to know about the history of a tech for an average joe.
How does NFC works?
NFC technology relies on a communication standard that defines how two devices establish a peer to peer network to exchange data and uses electromagnetic radio fields to communicate. It always includes an initiator and a target, when initiator actively generates an RF field which can power a passive targets. Usually, the NFC tags contains data, and can be both read only as well as writable, too and securely stores credit and debit card data, loyalty program data, PINs and other info as well. Currently tags offers between 96 and 4,096 bytes of storage. Okey, we didn’t want to get more technical here and for extra detailed stuff we had leave it up to Wikipedia.
What are the capabilities of NFC?
Now comes the part you all might be curiously waiting for, what the real deal NFC carries and how it can change the way we usually make payments but before taking on, one thing should be clear for you that NFC standards enables users to transform information touching devices or so called-tapping.
So what you are the thing you can do by tap :-
- It can be used to make easy and secure payments.
- It can be used to make existing wireless tech such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections easier. For instance, you can just tap your phone with whom you want to establish a Bluetooth connection, and no pairing step is required, similarly you can safely use Wi-Fi with a NFC enabled router with NFC technology enabled device, just touch them and all your configuration will be transferred to the smartphone securely, no hassle of set up and WPA keys.
- You can use it to share your files, such as photos, videos, songs, joining a mobile multiplayer games and sharing contacts.
- It can be used as electronic identify docs, keycards and as it supports encryption. For eg. You’ve reached your office, and instead of swiping your card and entering your PIN, you’ve to just tap your phone and Whoa! door unlocks, no need of setting up private RFID systems.
NFC in action
Let’s start it by implementing NFC, right now in your life and suppose you already have a NFC phone. Now starts your NFC enabled morning, you move out from your home to reach metro station, and using your NFC phone, you tap the phone to open the turnstile-and when you move out of the metro the charge of your journey will be deducted from your account by simple tap.
Now moving out of the station you suddenly saw a poster for a concert tonight, so you just touch your phone to the N-Mark of the poster and all the attached details will be transferred to your phone. After that, you book the concert ticket via mobile bookings, internet or SMS from your phone and tell your buddies about the concert tonight.
Now as you’ve reached to office, all you’ve to do is simply tap your phone to the NFC tag, and to get in the work area. In the office, you’ve a meeting with new business partner, and at the end you just tap the phones together, to exchange business cards.
It’s evening now, and your buddies are waiting for the concert tonight, now as you all have reached to the venue, you just tap your phone to confirm the reservations and you are admitted to get in to the hall.
After the show, you and you your friends reached to a mall, purchases few clothing and other stuff and you’ve easily make secure payments via NFC tap.
So this is a simple explanation of implementing NFC in your daily life, now you must be wondering if it’s that simple to make payments then what if i had lost my phone?
Well in that case, you have to just inform your operator that you’ve lost your phone and please disable all my phone’s NFC services, that’s it and fortunately if you got your phone back, then you can easily re-initiate the NFC services.
What’s the Future of NFC?
Alright, looking at the active participation of 150 NFC members, including Nokia, Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Research in Motion, LG , Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Google, Microsoft, Paypal, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Intel, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and several carriers across the world. These all are already a big players in this communication world, it’s an obvious fact that NFC has got a very bright future in the coming days.
However, if we talk about NFC technology enabled devices, Nokia has already thrown NFC enabled smartphones in the market, Google has already introduced Google Wallet, an app that stores your credit cards and debit cards details and the payment will be done via tapping (uses NFC) the phone at point of sale. Similarly, Germany and Austria has also started trialled NFC ticketing systems for public transport.
In case of India, NXP has already working with Glodyne Technoserve to bring the power of NFC in the rural areas, where consumers are to be issue with e-shakti cards which can be used to access virtual bank branches equipped with NFC tech.
In the other news, Citi Bank has also started pilot project named as Citi Tap and Pay in Bengaluru, brought in association with Nokia, MasterCard & Vodafone to make payments via Tap at select retail outlets and they’ve received a positive response from consumers. Now they are looking to assimilate the results of the pilot towards a full-fledged commercial launch with which you will have the benefit of an enhanced Tap and Pay service.
Likewise, Tata DoCoMo ha also partnered with XIUS for NFC based trial mobile payments in Hyderabad. Recently, Nokia has also joined with PayMate to bring mass NFC payment system in India.
Quick fact: The smartcards provided by Delhi Metro network is already using the NFC to allows users to easily pay the fares.
Current NFC enabled handsets across the World.
Nokia : 600 (Officially canceled), 603, 700, 701, C7 (selected regions), N9.
Samsung: Nexus S, Galaxy SII (selected regions), Galaxy Note (selected regions).
BlackBerry: Bold -9790, 9900, Curve – 9380, 9350, 9360, Torch- 9860, 9810
HTC : Amaze 4G
Sources: Wikipedia, NFC Forum and other online publications