NFC stands for "Near Field Communication" and it is one form of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).
NFC is a wireless data transfer technology that today is available in billions of Smart Phones, Tablets, Wrist Watches and in other devices such as NFC Data Hubs and larger (static) NFC-RFID Readers.
NFC Tags can be read by any NFC Reader device anywhere in the world, because the NFC wireless (RF) protocol is a global standard.
Its 13.56 MHz frequency is harmless to other devices (such as pacemakers, etc.), so it is safe to use anywhere including hospitals.
Many NFC (or ISO-15693 RFID) devices can work in close proximity: a big advantage against most UHF (Ultra High Frequency) Readers; multiple UHF Readers can not operate well in the same area without perfect Radio Field shielding!
It requires an NFC Tag (Transponder with NFC Chip) on one side and on the other side an NFC data Reader (that often also can function as a data Writer), such as for example an NFC Phone.
An NFC Tag in its minimal configuration consists of just an NFC Chip + Antenna, put together in a flexible adhesive label or in any other shape, dimension and appearance (the Tag).
NFC needs no battery for the wireless data transfer. This "PASSIVE" characteristic enables a lower price and smaller and thinner Tag dimensions than other wireless technologies such as for example Bluetooth, WiFi, Zigbee, Active RFID, etc.
NFC communicates at shorter distance than Bluetooth, WiFi, Zigbee and Active RFID, which in some cases may be a disadvantage (and therefore NFC does not replace the other mentioned technologies), but NFC also adds much to everybody's life: its fairly short read distance provides better data privacy and there are many other advantages that make NFC a great wireless technology:
- Save Phone Battery: NFC hardly consumes any battery power of the NFC Reader device, so e.g. an NFC Phone battery does not suffer from its NFC function.
Whereas Bluetooth, WiFi, Zigbee and GPS circuitries inside the phone consume very much of its battery power, greatly limiting its daily use time.
- Wireless Tag Read and Write function: Data can be read wirelessly from NFC tags (transponders) for example by mentioned NFC Phones etc, but also -in some configurations- data can be written to the NFC tag.
- Energy Harvesting: NFC tags can function without any battery, because the necessary power is transferred wireless from the NFC device to the NFC chip.
- NDEF: NFC tags can in many cases and optionally support NDEF data formats. NDEF stands for "NFC Data Exchange Format". NDEF can make complex things be done automatically by a simple touch or approach of the NFC tag from e.g. the NFC Phone, such as (but its applications are virtually unlimited):
- Connect to a pre-programmed website (URL).
- Turn On and Off certain other functions inside the phone or inside e.g. the Bluetooth speaker, etc., to control power consuming Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, etc.
- Establish an automated and very quick handshake to Bluetooth circuitries (in phones, camera's speakers, lights and any other Bluetooth device) and WiFi devices (speakers, routers, etc).