Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What is NFC and do we need it?

I have been receiving some questions recently and I thought I would answer this in a full blog post as I have had so many queries about these big initials appearing in our devices.
Most of us have got used to wifi and bluetooth to transfer data between our techie toys; but many devices now are coming through with NFC as what is it?

What is NFC?
Well NFC stands for Near Field Communication not charging as many of you have been asking me. Sorry you cannot charge your new smart phone with NFC.
So what does it do and how does it work? Well I will try to explain without getting too complicated.

The Clue is in fact in the name!
Near - means it allows you to pass on information or data next to or near another device with NFC without using keyboard or screen; but just being close enough.
You can simply bump...okay...gently touch... the devices together and voila your chosen image or document is passed quickly straight from one device to another. It really is super cool and I have only just started to use it myself recently as its so fast!

The Science Bit
NFC actually came before Wifi and Bluetooth as its derived from RFID a Radio Frequency Identification technology mainly used by superstores to keep track of their stock; not only for stocktaking but with shoplifters. A shoplifter will walk past 2 sensors near the main door triggering an alarm by a tiny sensor on the product they are carrying; using no physical contact they were just close enough to the signal to trigger the stores alarm.
NFC is a short range low power communication between 2 devices. One initiator uses a magnetic induction to create a radio-wave field that the target device can detect and access; allowing small amounts of data to be transferred wirelessly over a short distance. It must be less than 4 inches.
In my experience I have to be touching my devices; certainly no way I could go 1 inch let alone 4 inches. It may depend on your device however.

It wasn't until I got a speaker to review recently with it in that I really gave my NFC on both my Nexus 10 and S4 a full workout!
The tag is on the bottom corner and Im able to just hold my S4 and Nexus 10 against it and it automatically turns on my Bluetooth and starts playing the last song I played before. This has been brilliant.

Now you have it, what else can you do with it?
NFC technology allows smartphones and other enabled devices communicate with other devices with the NFC tag.

Near field technology allows you to pay, play and learn more easily. So what does the future technology hold for NFC; here are some ideas which are already being put into practice by some firms and companies.
  • You could swipe your phone at your local supermarket checkout to pay, wave it at the display at your local museum, or bumping phones with your friends and family to share the latest games and music..
  • Off to work; NFC could unlock and lock your car.
  • Traveling;  Pay for your tickets by waving your phone over the gates; like an oyster card. Up to date information on times, schedules and delays appear on your phone.
  • At work; Clock in by swiping in and out with your phone.
  • Shopping;  Coupons and reward points are already pre-loaded on your phone and adjusts your total accordingly when you checkout.
  • Concerts and events; download your ticket online and use your smartphone to gain access to the concert. Interact with posters for info about that event  and up and coming performances.
  • Finally you can do this already as you hang with your besties and share games, music, links and information; by bumping can now officially bump and grind...without...blushing in public!

The possibilities are endless of what manufacturers could do with NFC, its most certainly going to replace barcodes with more techie NFC tags.
So this brilliant new technology is designed to make life easier, quicker and more convenient in our super busy lifestyles.

Pro's of NFC
  • No need to carry your purse or wallet...just your phone with less chance of pick pocketing or mugging.
  • No need to carry keys where you can have NFC locks and phone swipes.
  • No need for car keys, with the posh cars of course.
  • Get tickets for traveling and events in seconds without waiting for the post to deliver on snail mail.
  • Have all your information on one device.
  • NFC can turn on your Bluetooth connection between phones for sending larger amounts of data from a further distance range than the NFC covers.
  • However it all goes to pot if you get your phone stolen.With all this information on your phone it makes it even more important to protect it; by password protection as well as on your body or out of sight in a handbag.

Is NFC on your phone important?
Honestly right at the moment no not really; we can all manage quite happily with Bluetooth and wifi but with anything; its great to have the latest and greatest and manufacturers are already adding it to phones and tablets for future use.
The potential is huge however and I have already been using it as its most certainly faster than Bluetooth, Ive found its instant when sharing an image or document.
But do we NEED it right now on our phone, do you have to buy a phone with it on..not if you don't want to. But if you love technology like me its a real bonus to just play with this clever future technology.

Does your device have NFC, how much do you use yours?
Let me know what you think below or send me an email?

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