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NFC finally gaining traction in the smartphone world

Posted by pyroscott , 13 March 2012 · 2,722 views

NFC iPhone 5 Tags Nexus Near Field Communication
NFC finally gaining traction in the smartphone world by Scott Johnson
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 2:00 AM MDT

Most of us have at least heard of NFC, the Google Wallet app, or the capability to use our NFC enabled phone as a wireless payment system, but do we know the power and uses of Near Field Communication?  NFC has endured a slow start, with very few devices that contain the communication chip, but Sprint seems to be giving it a boost by including NFC on all its LTE handsets.  Sprint’s director of consumer product marketing, Trevor Van Norman has said that “it is in our best interest to push the service” and he is right, as use of the payment system can bring in additional money for the carrier.  Outlook is rosy for this technology, and its ability to facilitate payments, with Juniper research predicting that NFC payments will hit $74 Billion by 2015.

Near field communication was evolved out of other work and accepted as an ISO standard in 2003.  The way it works is that when two devices are brought within 4 cm of each other, the devices will begin to communicate if they are both powered, or the RF signal from the powered device will power the unpowered RFID and begin communication.  This allows a NFC enabled cellphone to communicate with any compatible RFID tag, powered or not.  This opens doors well beyond mobile payments.

Most tech-savvy consumers are familiar with the “QR code” or quick response code. This allows someone to scan a barcode with their cell phone camera to display information or direct the smartphone to a URL.  NFC can be used in a very similar way; in fact, the LG Tag uses this capability as a marketing point even though all NFC phones are capable of it.  A store could stick a NFC tag on their entrance and allow patrons to “check in” with Foursquare or Facebook.  Posters can have NFC RIFDs to allow those who are interested in more information easy access to predetermined information that will be passed to the phone or automatically load a website into the phone's broswer  for even more information.  The tags could also be used in such places as landmarks, art galleries and museums to allow access to more information on what is being viewed.  Since the tags are relatively inexpensive and require no power other than what the reading NFC device provides, it can be adopted quickly once more devices contain NFC.

A small RFID can also be placed on Bluetooth devices to instantly connect a Bluetooth accessory to a phone without needing to pair them.  It can configure another faster method to transfer files, like WiFi, since NFC is not a very fast means of transport.  Pictures and video can even be displayed on a NFC enabled television from the phone by simply holding the phone to the RFID in the television.

The possibilities for this technology are grand, but will it be adopted for more than mobile payments?  Mobile payments will most likely drive the train for this technology to be widely accepted for all its various uses. Even Apple is rumored to be including NFC in its next iPhone, which seems to be the last hurdle for a technology before it is truly accepted.

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Sources:  Mashable, ars technica, Appolicious.com, Juniper Research, Light Reading

The technology is good, but there is real skepticism among many people that I have talked to about it. They feel that it makes it easier for someone to steal their information (especially credit card numbers). This perception will make it harder for NFC to become a dominant technology, but as much as I hate this, if the iPhone gets it... it will take off...

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