NFC stands for Near Field Communication and, as the name suggests, is a short-range communication technology that operates wirelessly. It is used primarily in retail transactions but can be used for other exchanges as well.
NFC was created as the next step from RFID technology from the early 1980s. Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, is a technology that facilitates the reading and collecting of data via radio waves. A tag located on the item transmits data to the reader which then converts said data into a more usable form. Once converted, the data can be read by a host computer system and stored in a database to be accessed at a later time. To learn more about RFID technology, check out our previous blog.
This technology has become highly useful in many industries since its development, but a huge beneficiary has been efficient inventory management. Since its development, RFID has gone through many necessary stages of improvement and eventually lead us to Near Field Communication. Now let’s take a closer look at NFC and its uses.
How does NFC work?
You’ve probably seen someone at Starbucks or another retailer pay for their purchases with their phone by tapping the phone against the credit card reader; this is NFC. As the name suggests, near field communication is a technology that must be used at close proximity- four inches or less to be exact, which is a security benefit. This means that data can’t be stolen at a distance. NFC tags also don’t require an internet connection in order to share information so data can’t be stolen that way either. So, what is an NFC tag made of? NFC tags are typically made up of a few parts: the antenna and chip, the substrate that holds those pieces together, the adhesive package, and the release liner. However, in recent years, developments in NFC tag technology have made it possible for companies to customize their NFC tags a bit.
Like RFID, NFC uses tags to operate and they come in two varieties: active NFC tags and passive NFC tags. Both types of NFC tags are short-range, but they have slightly different functionality. With active NFC tags, NFC tags located in both devices are activated and share information with one another when they come within four inches of each other. Information on the NFC tag can also be altered if authorization has been given.
Passive NFC tags are a little different. They can only send data, not read or alter it. They also operate powerlessly, giving them a wider scope of uses. Let’s take a look at the many uses for both active NFC tags and passive NFC tags.
What is NFC technology used for?
As mentioned above, one of the most common uses for NFC tags is in contactless transactions such as with a phone or smartwatch, but NFC tags can also be used for wireless data transfer, including transfers between phones. Currently, NFC technology is native to smartphones so no extra installation is necessary. This makes marketing and coupon offers easy to send to a customer’s phone via NFC tags. An NFC tag in a phone could also serve as a ticket for a concert, event, or public transport.
NFC tags can also be used for security purposes such as verifying identity and limiting access to secure areas. A phone or access card with NFC capability can have a person’s identifying information put into it to be read by an NFC reader to verify identity and determine access level.
There are many different applications for NFC tags and if you or your business has a need for an NFC tag application, we at IDScan.net develop iOS and Android apps using smartphone NFC tag reading technology to suit your needs. Most recently we’ve partnered with VAXSYS to create two apps, each available on both iPhone and Android.
These apps in particular are for tracking the COVID-19 vaccine – one for those administering the vaccine and one for those looking to verify vaccination status. Many businesses want the ability to confidently and safely open their doors, knowing that their patrons have been properly vaccinated and that’s where these apps come in. The Enroller app is for those administering the vaccines, and the Screener app is for anyone requiring proof of vaccination.
The VAXSYS Universal Enroller App, downloaded onto an iOS or Android smartphone and requiring no other equipment, is mobile and available to be instantly and widely deployed. It can be used by medical facilities to ensure individuals receive both doses of the vaccine correctly and within the timeframe specific to each type of vaccine. The app will automatically create the necessary record then encrypt and store that record in a specified secure database. As an option, that encrypted record may also be encoded into an NFC tag smartcard, which is given to the vaccinated person. Vaccination information is obtained touch-free from driver’s license or ID cards using IDScan.net scanning solutions. Medical facilities will then either tie the vaccination record to the patient’s ID or driver’s license or provide patients with an NFC tag smartcard-encrypted with the information.
Then, using the VAXSYS Universal Screener App on Android or iOS devices, organizations can use the device’s camera to scan the individual’s government-issued ID or read an NFC card. The app will then interrogate the vaccination database to determine vaccination status. This screening is completely anonymous – the screener sees no biographic information and only a red or green screen to confirm they have received both doses of the vaccine before entering the premises or removing their mask.
NFC tag technology has come a long way since its inception and its many applications from security to marketing to contactless payments provide numerous contactless solutions for many business’ needs. IDScan.net develops many iOS and Android applications that use NFC tags present in smartphones to suit a variety of uses. Our newest apps developed in partnership with VAXSYS will give many business owners the confidence to move forward with reopening their businesses.
NFC stands for Near Field Communication and is a short-range communication technology that operates wirelessly.
It is used primarily in retail transactions but can be used for other exchanges as well.