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Most likely you have heard someone use the term “Near Field Communication”, or “NFC” in short, already. Very probably the mobile phone you are reading this article on has an NFC chip inside. NFC is an increasingly useful feature on mobile phones ﹣ a connectivity enabler.

Back in the early 2000s, Nokia, Sony, and Philips established a standard for this technology based on radio frequency identification technology known as RFID. The RFID has been used for identification, authentication, and tracking using radio waves. You may have one of those identification badges to access your office. But you definitely know the electronic tags on products in retail stores. Those electronic (also called RFID) tags are another application of inductive coupling. The same inductive coupling that is used in your inductive charger and induction cooker, electric motors, transformers, or metal detectors.

Even if you have never owned an NFC-equipped mobile phone or tablet, you have probably used NFC. The technology is embedded in contactless payment cards since they were introduced for the very first time in the UK in 2007.

NFC is a short-range wireless or rather contactless communication standard that allows devices to exchange small bits of data between them. It only works with short distances of about four centimeters at the most. And in order for this to work, both devices must be very close to each other and must be equipped with an NFC chip. This short range is intentional as it provides security by only allowing devices to communicate within close proximity of each other.

NFC enables simple and secure communication between electronic devices. It may be used on its own or in combination with other wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth for communication that requires a longer time or longer distance.

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What Can NFC Do?

A lot of things, actually. Let’s start by leaving our wallets at home. Mobile payments are probably the most well-known application thanks to services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. They make shopping and paying a fare on public transit very simple and much more secure. NFC technology is still in its infancy, and we are going to see more practical applications. There are some other uses for NFC already. So for instance, NFC makes pairing Bluetooth devices or connecting to a new WiFi network a lot easier. With just a tap eliminating the need for people to connect manually. Apple Watch uses NFC to pair itself to various gym equipment allowing for accurate workout statistics. While staying in a hotel, your door keycard information could be stored on your mobile phone. And you would never leave your hotel room again without the door key.

NFC tags could be embedded in products that would otherwise have no digital connectivity. Like the Adidas 2018 World Cup official match ball. The NFC tag enabled people to interact with the ball using their mobile phones. Each ball generated a unique identifier, unlocking exclusive content and information for the people.

Physical things can have an online identity one day augmenting and enhancing the experience of owning them. As those experiences exist online, their possibilities are nearly endless.

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