NFC Tag – What it is and what it is for

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NFC Tag – What it is and what it is for

NFC Tags are electronic labels applied to objects to allow data exchange over a short distance. Learn more now!

04/08/2021

What is an NFC tag?

Today we live in an increasingly connected world where smart objects communicate with one another and are able to interact with the environment.

We are in the era of the IoT (Internet of Things), a revolutionary era in which technologies and telecommunications are experiencing truly accelerated progress, just think of Big Data to get an idea. Thanks to this technology, for example, in the last two years the world has seen a 90% increase in the data produced. These are extraordinary numbers that open up new scenarios and new possibilities.

And it is right in this scenario that NFC tags and their technology fit right in.

 

ARTICLE INDEX

  • NFC Meaning
  • NFC What It Is
  • NFC How It Works
  • NFC What It Is For
  • NFC Technology Advantages

 

NFC, what does it mean?

NFC is the initialism for Near-Field Communication.

It is a new technology in the telecommunications field, born in 2004 and characterized by a connection based on short-range waves.

NFC is, in a sense, the evolution of the RFID technology, and allows two devices to establish a contactless P2P connection.

 

NFC, what it is and what tags are?

Near-Field Communication technology is a form of wireless communication created to simplify money transactions, data exchange, pairing, and in general wireless connections between two objects when they are in close proximity.

NFC, being linked to the world of money transactions, has an encryption security system for the communication channel.

Preceded by RFID technology, NFC is in a sense a product of it, as it is also part of the Radio Frequency Identification family, that is the technology that uses radio waves to identify objects uniquely (objects equipped with electronic labels, called tags).

NFC tags are passive devices that are unpowered, as it is generally the case in the RFID world, so they are only able to respond if queried. They can be read or written to but do not have autonomy of dialogue (as they do not generate their own electromagnetic field).

In this case, NFC tags are static, while they can be dynamic if they have an additional serial interface. In this case, the tags can also be queried from the serial interface and even in the absence of an external magnetic field.

 

NFC, how it works?

Data transmission via NFC can take place passively or actively.

You have a passive mode when communication takes place between an NFC reader and a transponder. The first ‘extracts’ the data from the second, which instead has a passive role. This data transmission method is the one typically used in contactless payment processes.

You have an active mode when both communicating objects are equipped with NFC technology, so they can activate the high-frequency fields during the query phase and deactivate them when they are awaiting an answer.

 

Technical Characteristics of Data Transmission with NFC:

  • Data transmission rate via NFC is relatively slow at 106, 212, or 424 kbit/s.
  • The maximum distance defined by the protocol is 10 cm.
  • The main frequency is 13.56 MHz and its bandwidth depends on the adopted modulation.
  • NFC is part of the unlicensed ISM (Industrial, Scientific, and Medical) band.

 

NFC, what it is for?

The NFC technology allows the exchange of data between relatively close objects (maximum distance allowed is 10 cm).

It is an innovative technology that is highly widespread in the following fields of application:

  • Contactless payments
  • Data and file transfer
  • NFC tags

 

Contactless payments

The NFC technology has revolutionized the contactless payments sector by transforming a simple smartphone into an e-wallet.

This technology applied to payments is spreading rapidly, for example in Milan it was employed by the ATM company to make the payment of public transport tickets immediate. Thanks to the Mobile Pass app all the user needs to do is bring their smartphone close to the turnstile to access the transport service.

Data and file transfer

Exchanging data between two devices without Wi-Fi or data network is possible thanks to NFC technology, a system adopted, for example, to connect the phone to digital printers or cameras.

NFC tags

NFC tags are ‘electronic labels’ that are applied to objects or devices to make them ‘smart’. They are equipped with NFC chips with the purpose of sharing information or performing actions when a device with an NFC reader enters their range of action.

 

The advantages of NFC Technology

NFC technology is useful and offers real benefits in many applications.

Just think of the companies that use them to track the presence of their employees or the museums that use NFC technology to provide additional information on the artworks, for example, the Capitoline Museums have implemented NFC to offer more information on the finds.

The advantages of NFC technology are truly felt throughout the field of contactless payments, representing a new frontier in the management of money exchange in the modern era.

Among the various benefits we note:

  • payment simplification;
  • compatibility with smartphones, smartwatches, and credit cards;
  • transactions guaranteed by maximum security;
  • digital receipts;

 

NFC compared to other technologies

NFC technology may remind you of Bluetooth for example, but the differences between the two are not small. With Bluetooth, for example, the two devices must be paired before data can be transmitted and this can take several seconds.

With NFC, on the other hand, no configuration is required and the dialogue between the devices is immediate.

Unlike other file transfer options, just like Bluetooth, NFC uses less power. Its low energy consumption ensures a prolonged battery life of the devices.

Even in comparison with RFID, NFC technology has substantial differences, despite being a sub-category of it.

RFID and NFC are two wireless communication systems. While the invention of the first dates back to around 1970, we have to wait until 2004 to be able to talk about Near-Field Communication (born from the NFC Forum project of Sony, Philips, Nokia, LG, and Samsung).

One of the substantial differences between the two technologies is that, contrary to what happens for simpler RFID devices, with NFC technology you can have two-way communication. Two devices, placed at least 4 cm apart, can communicate with one another thanks to a peer-to-peer network.

Furthermore, compared to RFID, NFC technology is focused on the secure transfer of data, which is why it is widely used in digital payment systems.

F.A.Q.

What are NFC tags?

NFC tags are electronic labels equipped with NFC chips that allow the sharing of information when a device with an NFC reader enters their range of action.

What can you do with NFC technology?

NFC technology is widely used in many fields, for example, data and file transfer and contactless payments.