Near Field Communication (NFC) the interface of interfaces? By IDTechEx

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The argument for Near Field Communication (NFC) is this: You would not expend a lot of energy and cause annoyance by shouting across a room at someone you would walk across or ask someone nearby to pass on the message.

NFC uses the same principle to link electronic devices. It enables the user to exchange all kinds of information, in security, simply by bringing two devices close together. Its short-range interaction over a few centimetres simplifies identification because there is less confusion when devices can only contact immediate neighbours.

Take a picture with your cellphone then touch the television with it and the picture is displayed. Use the cellphone to replace all smart cards by touching it on ticket barriers and so on; in just the same way as you would with a contactless (RFID) smart card. Evolving from a combination of RFID and interconnection technologies, it is claimed that NFC technology will bridge todays connectivity gap when it is generally available. It enables the simple transfer of information, from phone numbers to electronic transactions. It allows people to interact with each other and with things navigating complicated menus or performing complex set-up procedures.

NFC is intended to be used for quickly establishing different forms of wireless communication between devices - a virtual connector. Once the two devices are in close vicinity, NFC should invisibly configure and initialize other wireless protocols such as Bluetooth and 802.11 (e.g. Wi-Fi), permitting devices to communicate at longer ranges or transfer data at higher rates. In an environment rich with wireless-enabled devices, NFC is the easy way to set up connections without needing to go through complicated menus. In a sense it creates ad hoc networks.

It is claimed that NFC also offers a unique link to contactless (i.e. RFID) smart cards. It is compatible with the broadly established infrastructure based on smart card technology, heavily used in transport across the world. This is because, like RFID tags, NFC devices can operate in an active or passive mode.  Active mode will permit communication with a wide variety of passive devices, such as contactless smart cards and other passive RFID. This mimics how active RFID tags can act as readers for passive RFID tags if so configured. This passive to active feature also permits mobile devices to communicate in passive mode, when NFC is used, thus saving power and extending battery life.

Intended to become a widely adapted RF infrastructure, NFC is already standardized by globally accepted bodies, including ISO (18092), ECMA (340) and ETSI. It operates at 13.56MHz over a distance of a few centimetres. Data rates are 106kbits/s and 21kbits/s. NFC is compatible with ISO 14443 A (Philips MIFARE) and Sonys FeliCa smart card protocols, respectively. However, higher transmission speeds can be achieved between dedicated NFC devices - initially up to 424kbits/s -with the potential for even higher bit rates.

Learn of the capabilities and development with NFC so far at Europes first summit and exhibition dedicated to active RFID and NFC - Active RFID Europe in London on September 19-20, Guoman Tower hotel

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