Near field communications (NFC) is a subset of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. NFC is different from RFID because of near field communications' standardized communication distance of roughly 4 feet (1.2 m). NFC is defined as contactless communication, because it allows information to travel between a source and receiver without any actual physical connection; the limited proximity allows for greater communication security, and the instantaneous communication allows for fast information exchange.
Near field communications relies on two separate components, an NFC tag and an NFC reader/writer. The NFC tag is a printed circuit integrating an antenna and stored data. Some devices are only capable of reading NFC tags, while others are capable of reading and writing data to NFC tags; at the very least, a device must be capable of reading NFC data to take part in an NFC handshake or transaction.
NFC can facilitate interactive marketing, financial transactions, and general information dissemination. A near field communications event occurs between two components when an object holding an NFC chip containing specific information and an NFC reader, often in the form of an NFC-capable mobile phone, interact. Most NFC tags are passive and only send information when an RFID signal is received; passive tags rely on the RFID signal to provide power to the circuit and remain dormant until activated by the NFC reader.
This is how an average NFC event occurs. The NFC reader sends an RFID signal in search of NFC tags within the 4-foot (1.2-m) radius; any NFC tags within that radius receive the RFID signal and respond by sending their preloaded data. The NFC reader then interprets this data and carries out the NFC tags' command. An NFC tag may direct a user's device to use a specific program or to visit a website for further interaction; the NFC tag acts as a prompt for further interaction on the part of the end user.
The area of near field communications has grown in popularity because of the low cost of NFC tag production, ease of configuration, speed of communication — up to 424 kilobits per second — and inherent security of communication instances. NFC also follows International Standards Organization (ISO) standard No. 14443, the primary international smartcard interoperability standard, making it capable of interaction with previously implemented contactless smartcards and their readers. Because of the overall operational value of NFC, it is imaginable that NFC deployment will continue to grow in both private and public sectors.