NFC Introduction

An introduction to a technology that’s changing just about everything.

NFC is one of the most exciting, yet unheralded, developments of the modern digital age; you probably already use it many times a day and you just don’t realise it. But because it’s growing so fast it really is time to understand how it works and what it could do for you and your organisation.

So, what is NFC?

This is a simple abbreviation of Near Field Communication, typically techie, but actually quite descriptive. The important word is ‘near’, because this is digital communication that can take place without anyone having to touch anything; no keyboard, no touch screen – just being close is enough.

Most of us have got used to having WiFi in our homes, or using products that link to each other through Bluetooth, but actually the origins of NFC go back beyond both of those with the development of radio frequency identification or RFID as it is usually known.

RFID enables communication which, unlike barcodes for example, can be scanned through objects and does not require line-of-sight. There are different kinds of RFID, but NFC utilises high-frequency, short-range signals, which means it’s ideal for communicating information instantly at very short distances.

Because such close proximity is required, users are commonly advised to ‘tap’ their Contactless cards on a reader. However, physical contact is not necessary – which means the tag can be stored in a wallet or embedded in a product and still function flawlessly. With NFC technology becoming ubiquitous, its short range is proving to be essential – helping to avoid unintentional Contactless payments, for example.

One of the key aspects of NFC that makes it so versatile is the fact that only the reader requires a power source. NFC chips are capable of storing electronic data - transmitted via a small antenna integrated within the tag - without batteries or any need to recharge. This, coupled with the incredibly small scale of NFC Tags, means they can be easily integrated into products, labels, posters, merchandise, wearables... the list goes on!

To get a flavour of just a few of the innovative and exciting Contactless applications NFC is being used for right now, click on 'NFC Today' above.