NFC Technology

NFC is a different kind of wireless. A proximity technology, it only works when two devices are brought close together so eavesdropping is almost impossible. What’s more, NFC is unique in the way it uses energy. Only one of the two devices needs to be powered for an interaction to take place. The first can power the second, so the second can save its battery for other things – or not have a battery at all.

NFC is a specialized subset of RF identification (RFID). It operates at 13.56 MHz and performs many of the same functions as RFID tags and contactless smartcards. NFC operates in one of three communication modes: Read/Write, Peer-to-Peer, and Card Emulation

Read/Write mode

In Read/Write mode, an NFC reader/writer reads data from NFC smart objects and acts upon that information. With an NFC-enabled phone, for example, users can automatically connect to websites via a retrieved URL, send short message service (SMS) texts without typing, obtain coupons, etc., all with only a touch of their device to the object.


In Peer-to-Peer mode, any NFC-enabled reader/writer can communicate to another NFC reader/writer to exchange data with the same advantages of safety, security, intuitiveness, and simplicity inherent in Read/Write mode. In this mode, one of the reader/writers behaves as a tag, creating a communication link. For example, two devices (such as smartphones) with readers/writers can communicate with each other.

Card emulation mode

An NFC device in card emulation mode can replace a contactless smartcard, enabling NFC devices to be used within the existing contactless card infrastructure for operations such as ticketing, access control, transit, tollgates, and contactless payments.

What’s RFID-Radio-frequency identification

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the wireless non-contact use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. Some tags are powered by and read at short ranges (a few meters) via magnetic fields ( electromagnetic induction). Others use a local power source such as a battery, or else have no battery but collect energy from the interrogating EM field, and then act as a passive transponder to emit microwaves or UHF radio waves (i.e., electromagnetic radiation at high frequencies). Battery powered tags may operate at hundreds of meters. Unlike a bar code, the tag does not necessarily need to be within line of sight of the reader, and may be embedded in the tracked object.

RFID tags are used in many industries. An RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line. Pharmaceuticals can be tracked through warehouses.Livestock and pets may have tags injected, allowing positive identification of the animal. On off-shore oil and gas platforms, RFID tags are worn by personnel as a safety measure, allowing them to be located 24 hours a day and to be quickly found in emergencies.

Since RFID tags can be attached to clothing, possessions, or even implanted within people, the possibility of reading personally-linked information without consent has raised privacy concerns.