Will Near Field Communication Obliterate Other P2P Wireless Technologies?


Introduction

NFC derives its roots from an existing technology but goes much farther to enhance communication. The birth of this technology is welcomed in the tech world and every stakeholder of the mobile communication ecosystem is affected in a positive way. If thoughts of How and Why abound in your mind, then read ahead.

How NFC Works?

NFC makes use of RFID to aid communication between devices placed at distances within 10 cm of each other. Of these devices, NFC enables one of them to don the role of an active device and emit a radio frequency that locks with a NFC enabled passive device or tag and extracts data from it. Passive devices can only hold data but incapable of scrutinizing them. Active devices, on the other hand, can also be programmed to hold and provide data when requested by other active devices.

Security measures like encryption can be wrapped on the communication. It is recommended the devices be equipped with anti-virus software to protect sensitive transactions.

Applications of NFC

NFC obviously steals a march over other wireless forms of communication for the reasons mentioned in previous sections of this article. It would be interesting to note the diverse uses this technology can be applied to. However, for prudence sake a single continuous example is narrated that involves NFC in daily life.

This example illustrates the wonderful things a fictional character called Joe can do with his NFC enabled smartphone. Joe, a social media consultant, lives in Newton, a leafy residential suburb of Boston, MA. He uses the Amtrak to get to Summer Street, the central business district of Boston. At the embarking station he wants to purchase tickets for the journey to Boston and back. He spots an NFC enabled vending machine and flashes his smartphone close to it. Post initiation protocols, Joe proceeds to select and reserve the tickets, and the confirmation appears on his smartphone. He boards the train to Boston. On the Ticket Checker’s (TC) request he flashes the smartphone close to the TC’s NFC enabled ticket verification machine which behaves an active device to extract the data from Joe’s phone. The reservation is confirmed and the gentlemen exchange pleasantries like their devices did a few moments ago!

Joe disembarks at South Station and proceeds to his office. On the way he spots a kiosk displaying a Vangelis concert at Boston Symphony Hall. He touches his NFC Mobile Phone to the NFC tag on the funky poster and extracts data like date, time, participating musicians, theme etc., onto his phone. He reserves seats for the concert with his mobile phone, using mobile communications (ex: SMS, internet), to receive the complimentary tickets. He informs his wife via a text message inviting her to the concert and afterwards, for dinner.

At the office entrance, he touches his NFC Mobile Phone to the NFC enabled door to open it.

Come lunch time, and Joe again uses his smartphone to pay for his meal using a credit card stored in his phone using NFC tap-and-go at the POS register in the eatery.

In the afternoon he meets with members of his new client company. At the end of the meeting, Joe and his clients touch their phones together to exchange their business cards stored in their NFC Mobile Phones.

In the evening, Joe and his wife reach Boston Symphony Hall where he touches his NFC Mobile Phone to an NFC enabled turnstile. Their reservations are confirmed and they are admitted into the hall.

After enjoying an enlivening concert, they head to Macy’s where Joe surprises his wife with a platinum necklace. They have a quiet candle lit dinner at Little Italy by the bay. Joe uses NFC credit card in his phone to make payments in both cases. On the way back, they join a street carnival playing at Quincy. Joe happens to lose his smartphone in the commotion. On realizing, he immediately calls his mobile service provider to report the theft of his mobile and request them to cancel the NFC services in his phone. This would delete confidential data (especially money related) from his mobile. Joe can reactivate the NFC services if he gets back his mobile phone.

From the illustration one can observe the many uses NFC can be put to in daily life.

Conclusion

NFC is a boon to the mobile user who is discovering and bringing to life many myriad applications the mobile can perform. From the day when a mobile was used to just make a call to using it now as a mobile wallet, a ticket reservation system, a security system etc., the user has extracted a lot from the mobile. NFC provides the momentum to purpose this excitement onto the next level.

NFC is safer, versatile and growing popularity. Good luck bumping!

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