Near Field Communication (NFC) is a technology that allows communication between two devices over a distance of 4 cm (or below). It uses a set of protocols that comprise two NFC-enabled devices.
What is an NFC Tag? The NFC tag is unpowered and it can only transfer information when close to a device equipped with an NFC reader. The receiver sends signals that excite the NFC chip (located within the NFC tag) thus allowing an exchange of stored information.
What is Inside an NFC Tag?
An NFC tag consist of three components:
- NFC Chip/ an Integrated Circuit
The integrated circuit/ NFC Tag is the most important yet the smallest part of the NFC tag. It has a memory that enables you to store information in NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) for ease of sharing. It is located centrally and surrounded by a substrate.
The substrate is any material that helps to hold the antenna and the NFC tag together. It is the largest part of the tag and comes in different forms ranging from plastics to adhesives.
The last important part of the NFC tag, an antenna, aids in data exchange. It comprises a loop of wire or a coil positioned strategically to send or receive signals from an NFC-enabled device.
What does an NFC tag look like?
NFC tags can be made in different shapes and sizes. They can be incorporated on items such as cards, key fobs, and wristbands, among others. These NFC tag variations are especially important for event organizers. The NFC wristbands and key fobs are useful to manage event attendees and guarantee flawless operations.
Additionally, NFC tags can be modeled into thin tags such as NFC stickers, discs, labels, and inlays. The difference among the variations lies primarily in the substrate used to hold the NFC chip.
NFC Stickers vs. NFC Inlays – What’s the difference?
NFC stickers have an adhesive substrate that allows the user to stick them on their target surface. The stickers can be printed with color artwork, making them more appealing for event adverts and other messages that require attractiveness.
On the other hand, NFC inlays are the most basic and affordable NFC tags. While they have an adhesive backing, they cannot be printed with color artwork. The inlays have a plastic substrate (white or clear) and are thus water-resistant. However, they can easily be damaged by bending or any other form of compression.
How Do NFC Tags Work?
NFC tags allow contactless transfer of information. The technology replaced the traditional magnetic cards that required swiping before the exchange of data could occur. As such, you can be sure that NFC tags epitomize efficiency and convenience.
But how exactly do NFC tags work?
Well, NFC tags comprise a small chip encased in a cover/casing. The chip stores the information required for a specific activity. For example, NFC tags can store details such as your passwords, website details, and contact information.
These are the steps of NFC tags’ functionality from the beginning to the end:
- Buy an NFC Tag of Choice. The type of NFC tag you choose will depend on your needs and preferences. For example, an NFC wristband would be ideal for event management than an NFC inlay. When selecting one, ensure you consider the memory size, shape, and information you need to store.
- Program the NFC Tag. Programming your NFC tag involves writing information into its memory for storage. To achieve this, you must have a tag writer application. You can write different types of details, including URL, contacts, texts, and any other information you may deem fit. After completing the writing process, your NFC tag will be ready for use.
- Test Its Functionality. To test the efficacy of your NFC tag, you should bring an NFC-enabled device close to the tag (approximately 4 cm). If the tag is correctly configured, it will execute the command in seconds!
- Place It Strategically. The location you place your NFC tag determines its efficacy. You should ensure accessibility for ease of reading and exchange of data.
Data exchange between two NFC-enabled devices takes a few seconds. As such, you can be sure of convenience and reliability.
What are NFC Tags Used For?
You can customize your NFC tags to undertake several functions. Some of the key uses of NFC tags include contactless payment, sharing files & data, automating your home door system, and switching on/off your lights.
Most devices (Android and iOS) come with an NFC chip designed to act as an NFC reader or an NFC writer depending on how you want to use it.
You can pair this chip with a mobile payment app such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Pay to make your payments without getting your wallet out!
Additionally, you can use your Android or iOS phone to write on an open tag. When you complete the writing process, you will be able to execute various actions by bringing the phone close to the tag!
NFC tags have been used by private homeowners as well as organizations to eliminate delays in various processes, enhance efficacy, and promote convenience. Automating your processes using NFC should surely be on your bucket list!
How to Know Whether My Phone is NFC-Enabled
Knowing whether your phone is NFC-enabled is the first step to automating your systems. If you realize that it is not, then you will have difficulties writing action on your NFC tags.
While a majority of smartphones come with NFC features, there are still a few that lack it. To check whether yours is NFC-enabled, you should follow the following steps:
- Navigate to your phone’s settings section
- Locate “Communication Settings”
- Click on NFC settings and change them to “On” from “Off”. Note that some phones allow you to only turn on NFC for a specific activity. For example, turn on to share information or turn on to pay for service, etc.
- Exit the settings
Knowing how to turn on NFC on your smartphone is necessary since phone manufacturers (except iPhone) do not have automatic “NFC-on” features.