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Near Field Communications – just how near is it?

Devices

Posted on January 7, 2013

3 min read

Near Field Communications (NFC) has been around since 2004. The pioneers of this technology – Sony, Royal Philips Electronics (Philips) and Nokia – formed the NFC Forum “to advance the use of Near Field Communication technology by developing specifications, ensuring interoperability among devices and service, and educating the market about NFC technology…”. It now boasts over 160 members, including “manufacturers, application developers, and financial services institutions all working together to promote the use of NFC technology in consumer electronics, mobile devices and personal computers”.

You may have seen NFC in action without knowing what it was.

Examples of NFC in action include:

Digital Wallet– with a range of only 1.5”, NFC is a secure method for contactless credit card payments.

Business Cards – having an NFC chip in your cards can make exchanging information so much easier.

The following diagram from the NFC Forum website shows the many ways NFC can and is being implemented in our daily lives (click to view full size).

A day in the life of NFC

Click to view full size (Image: NFC Forum)

We use NFC technology every day – often without even realising it. If you live in Melbourne and travel by public transport, your Myki card uses NFC. Purchasing goods from a store that uses MasterCard PayPass also uses NFC.

How does it work?

NFC is a contactless wireless technology, similar to RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification). An NFC chip inside a smartphone or other device/object creates an electromagnetic field that is received by an NFC tag found in smart posters and card readers, amongst other items. By placing the smartphone close to the tag embedded object, information can be exchanged.

From a mobility standpoint, NFC is spreading its wings. No longer the sole domain of the smartphone, we are now seeing NFC popping up in accessories and small laptops (ultrabooks).

What do you do if you purchased one of the hottest Smartphones in the market today and find it doesn’t support NFC? Accessorise it of course. At a recent contactless payment conference in Sydney, NFC company Datacard indicated they would be producing an NFC chip embedded into a cover or sleeve in the near future.

Some of the other cool NFC accessories on the market today include the Nokia and Monster NFC stereo headset – the Nokia Purity Pro (also known by its less friendly name as the BH-940 over-ear wireless headset that features NFC pairing and Monster’s active noise cancellation technology that automatically powers up as soon as you put them on, and shut down when not in use.

Japanese firm Elecom has released an NFC-enabled smartphone keyboard. Place your NFC enabled smartphone on the keyboard and start typing. No cables, ultra low power consumption of the internal battery that lasts for up to three years without a charge. The keyboard is made of silicone rubber that is water resistant.

I’ll be looking at NFC over a series of blogs in coming weeks, what do you do with NFC?

Image credit: One2Touch