14
Near Field Communications: The Smart
Choice for Enabling Connectivity
The concept of Near Field Communications (NFC) is based upon the premise of
enabling through proximity. It’s a simple theory but one shrouded with controversy, as
we read of advertisers keen to acquire a sense of the long-term business plan for the
technology. Many feel that it holds the key to a smarter, wirelessly-connected next
generation of life-style enhancing products. It’s certainly a sexier alternative to
Bluetooth, being easier to use and brought to life by the slightest touch. You might
even say that its market potential is foreplay to the eager consumer whose desire may
be to rush discovery and introduction and simply get paired in an instance. NFC is
not an entirely new technology – it just got smarter; it evolved from Radio Frequency
ID (RFID) technology, which we can consider to be NFC’s much older (and-all-
around-nice-guy) brother. RFID has been around since the 1920s, but it formally
emerged as various espionage tools during World WarII and, of course, as a means of
identifying airplanes as friend or foe.
What is RFID?
Most frequently, people use NFC and RFID interchangeably, but there are some
subtle differences in terms of use cases, wireless medium and range. The premise of
RFID is primarily to read information from a tag or transponder – a device that can be
placed into a product or a person (yes, a person). The tag or transponder itself is an
integrated circuit, which has attached a small antenna and can be placed into a
number of materials. In fact, in 1998, a British cybernetics professor (Kevin Warwick)
implanted a tag into his arm where he used it to control a number of devices to
include light switches, doors and so on. The information stored on a tag will allow a
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