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What is Near Field Communication?

Near Field Communication (or NFC, for short), is a form of contactless communication between devices like smart phones and tablets.

This means that a user can wave his or her smartphone over another NFC compatible device to send information without actually having to touch the pieces together, or taking multiple steps to set up a connection (no need to enter Wi-Fi info, create a text or email to send photos, etc.)

Depending on the operating system, NFC runs on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct to share information and data.

Here are some companies that I looked up and know are using NFC technology:

Google

Sony

Nokia

Motorola

Microsoft

Samsung

Most of the major credit card and mobile companies

Have any of you ever worked with any of these companies?  Have you ever had a client ask for a candidate with NFC experience, or a candidate asks for an NFC role?

What is it used for?

1.  Commerce

Google Wallet – a mobile payment system developed by Google that allows users to store and use things that would otherwise be physically stored in their wallet (Such as credit and debit cards, gift cards, store loyalty cards, and coupons) inside their smart phone, Just wave phone over compatible sensor. Apple chose not to adopt NFC technologies.  Possible explanation for this is because they wanted to let other companies perfect the technology first.

2.  Social networking – NFC is used for social networking to share contacts, photos, videos, files, or to play multi-user games

3.  Entertainment purposes

Sony unveiled their “one touch technology” this year

With their One Touch, you simply tap your phone to another device to establish a connection and the data transfer begins. 

So you can tap your phone’s chip to the same spot on an audio player and the music playing from the audio source will start playing on your phone

If you tap the phone to a TV remote, you can transfer a photo from your smartphone to the television screen.  The same is the case for a video.

4.  Healthcare – nurses have been incorporating NFC into their technology in order to easily track a patient’s treatments and prescribed medications, etc.  All they have to do is swipe a smartphone they carry around with them over a reader that is designed to record this information, and it transfers it into the system. This prevents lost paperwork, etc.

According to the Near Field Communication website (nearfieldcommunication.org), plans for the future include the capabilities to:

1.  Unlock your car, adjust the car seats, and enter a parking garage

2.  Access the office building

3.  Pay for food and drinks from a vending machine

4.  Get on the bus or the subway

5.  Enter plays, concerts, etc. with no paper ticket

6.  Serve as personal identification (drivers license, passport)

7.  Repay friends for dinners, cab rides, etc.

ALL USING NEAR FIELD COMMUNICATION

**there is actually an app out right now called Venmo (has anyone heard of it?) that allows users to automatically transfer out of their bank accounts and into their friends – good for splitting cab rides, meals, etc.  But this does not run on NFC.

Where did it come from?

NFC technology stems from RFID, which is the technology that is used in wireless toll collection devices, like EZ-Pass.

**The important difference is that RFID communication is one-sided (which in this example means that only the EZ-Pass can send information to the reader in the tollbooth, and not the other way around

With NFC, however, the communication is a two way street between the devices.

Cons of NFC

There are security concerns.  Some consumers are afraid that their device could be hacked into by someone else carrying around a scanning device.  Then unlimited charges could be made.

A possible solution to this is being mindful to turn off the NFC technology when you aren’t using it, but consumers want something more full proof than this

Technologists say that in order to prevent this from happening, protection must be hardwired into the iOS either with software security, or with an actual hardware security device.

Implications:

According an article in Popular Science, many many companies are completely gung-ho for NFC technologies.  They believe that these potential capabilities will enhance revenue for their businesses by making it easier for people to shop.

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  Another goal for NFC is for shoppers to load things into bags in the store and simply walk through a security screening device which would pick up the exact prices of everything they are leaving with and automatically charge that sum on their credit card – without ever having to go to a cash register to “check out”

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