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What is NFC Technology?
Have you ever wondered what makes tap-and-go services like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Amiibo work? As much as it seems like pure magic, it isn't. So what is NFC technology exactly? Simply put, it's a method of wireless data transfer that detects and then enables technology in close proximity to communicate without the need for an internet connection. It's easy, fast and works automagically.
How does NFC Technology work?
The tech involved is deceptively simple. Evolved from radio frequency identification (RFID) tech, an NFC chip operates as one part of a wireless link. Once it's activated by another chip, small amounts of data between the two devices can be transferred when held a few centimetres from each other. No pairing code is necessary to link up and because it uses chips that run on very low amounts of power (or passively, using even less), it's much more power-efficient than other wireless communication types. At its core, NFC works to identify us by our enabled cards and devices (and by extension, our bank accounts and other personal info.)
NFC, or near-field communication, is an easy and intuitive technology that allows you to use your mobile phone for special purposes. An NFC tag can share and link to information such as web pages, social media and all other sorts of other information generally. Other areas where NFC is starting to evolve into are making payments, opening doors secured with contactless locks, logging on to computers and many more. All of these actions have something in common, that is they invoke an action based on you placing your phone (or any other NFC device) near (the N in NFC) the thing you want to read or interact with.
NFC Technology is bridging the gap between both the physical and virtual worlds. By bringing two devices near each other, there is a virtual reaction. Bluetooth and WiFi do not have this ease in set up. So the key feature of NFC is: It is automatic! There is no need to launch an application! ...it just works!
NFC uses passive targets (with no batteries!) and random devices that are not powered (so called tags or stickers, sometimes aka transponders or labels) – all of which you can buy on this site as part of the Identiv offering. NFC Tags are essentially “targets” that “want” to be touched by NFC devices like mobile phones. These Tags can contain information per se or point (i.e. direct) you to information, applications or services.
NFC chips stocked inside credit cards for contactless payments is nothing new. But a more recent and admittedly more enticing use case for NFC is with your smartphone, which can digitize your entire wallet. Virtually every mobile OS maker has their own apps that offer unique NFC functionality. Android users have the widest variety to choose from. First off, US users can nab Google Wallet, which accesses your funds for contactless payments. Samsung Pay, which operates similarly, is on the way for Samsung phone users in US and Korea this Summer.
However, a feature that all Android owners have been able to enjoy is called Android Beam. It was implemented in Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 as a nifty, simple process that allows for the transfer of photos, contacts and directions that works by holding two phones together.
Whichever device you have, it's likely that a local supermarket, train station, taxi or coffee shop supports contactless payments via your phone's NFC chip. Go try it out! Simply hold it close to a contactless payment terminal and instantly, like swiping a credit card, the payment will complete.
Looking toward the future, it's possible that NFC chips could be used to replace every card in your wallet. That means the unique info on your frequent shopper loyalty cards, library card, business cards and the like could be contained and transmitted simply via NFC.
The potential for NFC stretches further than commerce. Passive NFC 'tags' are being built into posters and informational kiosks to transmit additional information similar to how scanning a QR code can trigger launching a web address, offering a discount coupon, or a map to download on your smartphone. A clever use of an NFC tag can be found integrated into Google's do-it-yourself VR kits, Cardboard. Mounting your NFC-capable smartphone into the headset triggers the nearby tag to automatically download or launch the app.
Strangely enough, even video games and action figures are even seeing an injection of the wireless technology. Nintendo's Amiibo, Skylanders and Disney Infinity are collectible toys at heart, but under the hood, the NFC tech offers new functionality not previously seen in video games.
Waving these figurines over gaming consoles or accessories enables players to "check-in" to the game brings them to life, so to speak, which activates some unique features.
In Skylanders, these figurines can be linked up to the game to enrich the experience with these new characters to play with. Disney Infinity and Amiibo toys yield similar rewards to players and collectors. The NFC chips inside are capable enough to store user data such as experience points, progression and customized settings.
Another practical use of NFC is with Bluetooth speakers and headphones. Many devices brandish the NFC logo, which means that by holding your smartphone to the NFC-enabled device, you'll be able to connect via Bluetooth much faster than pairing devices manually.
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QR codes vs NFC tags may come with a little difference but both function the same (stores information) and provides digital content to the user. However, when choosing which of these technologies to use for your next marketing project or campaign, there is absolutely no one size that fits all.
Rather than using phone's camera to scan a QR you use NFC chip that is now available in most of the modern smartphones. You just hold your phone near an NFC "tag" which is a circle of 3,5cm in diameter with a tiny antenna inside and it opens a web address in the same way as qr code does.
Depending on the iPhone model, there are different ways to use the NFC function. Starting with iOS 14, the “NFC Tag Reader” function is available by default to all users who have at least an iPhone 7. So if you own an iPhone 7 or newer, you no longer need a third-party app to read NFC tags.
Data acquired from NFC interactions provides deep insights into a customer’s offline behaviour, enabling marketers to open a direct channel for delivering dynamic experiences to customers who have opted in. Marketers can then prompt customers to learn more about the products they purchase, launch videos, enter contests, and much more.
Technology has remarkably evolved over time and now, the world has moved from NFC-based payments to contactless verification too. Using near field communication for verifying identities is by far the most convenient way for companies as well as end-users.
We are living in an immaterial world. Music Blocks, tiles with embedded NFC chips, are one idea, and now team up with a popular electronic music label and artist. Basically, you can think of these tiles as connected art decoration.
In the age of digitalisation where there are a mobile apps for everything, NFC locking is an electronic system that uses a digital vs mechanical key with built-in NFC to control device access.
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NFC "tags" mentioned here are actually just a general term. In fact, "NFC tags" does not necessary be a sticker. According to your application scenarios, it can be in different forms.
You will learn how to write Data to a NFC Tag using Your Android Device or if you have an iPhone, we will also cover that too! Programming a NFC tag basically means writing the actions you want to perform to your tag.
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Staff can 'check in' at every patrol point along pre-set routes with a smartphone. If they encounter anything unusual, staff can take photos or make recordings instantly, and upload the files to the system for reporting and handling purposes.
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Program NFC Chips with your mobile!
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Invited as a panellist for the upcoming NEXX FINTECH 2019 Event.
NFC Touch exhibited at Asia's most anticipated international financial technology event of the year
The Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, in London led a Hong Kong fintech delegation include NFC Touch to strengthen financial innovation ties.
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Thanks Jumpstart Media for bringing us the highlight of HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition) 2018.