IntroductionThe iPhone 5 may not have it but NFC is still set to become a big deal over the coming months. But just what is it? Join us as we talk through what the technology is and the myriad uses there are for it.
NFC – What is it?Near Field Communication (NFC) is a wireless communication technology with a very short range - typically just a few centimetres - developed to enable phones to communicate with each other and with passive 'tags' simply by bringing the two close together. It's not actually a brand new development but rather an extension of the existing Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) standards, as used on the Oyster card system, for instance, and indeed it has the potential to be compatible with that system.
The basic technology consists of a small chip for storing information, an antenna for sending and/or receiving information and an inductive power system. And it's this latter part that is really key to the technology's wider uses.
The Nokia Lumia 920 has wireless charging as well as NFC.
Inductive power is what's used in wireless charging technologies as on the Nokia Lumia 920. Just like in larger electricity generation it uses the property that a varying magnetic field can induce a flow of current in a wire. But where a generator spins magnets to create current in a wire, inductive power transmission creates an electromagnetic wave in one device and uses it to create current in the antenna of another.
The result is that you can have a battery-less device like an Oyster card or contactless credit card be sent power by the card reader, which the card then uses to send information back to the reader.
In this way NFC can be used to read inexpensive, unpowered tags embedded in posters and magazines, or even be used as an electronic version of a barcode. This is also why phones with NFC can still be used for contactless payment – or any other purpose where a reader might provide the power – even when its battery is dead.
Beyond this NFC also stands apart from other wireless technologies because it requires little to no authentication. Because its range is so short, there's no need for devices to be distinguished from one another like with Bluetooth for instance. Touch them together and communication is instant.
So that's the core of the technology but just what can it be used for?