Near Field Communication

NFC is based on the same protocol as RFID—and both passive RFID and NFC operate in the same 13.56 MHz frequency—but the use cases are entirely different. So while NFC is an excellent data transmission and exchange medium, it isn’t appropriate or even remotely viable for asset location management. Here’s why.

In radio communications, “the near field” refers to the area close to an antenna where the magnetic field being produced is detectable. NFC applications need to be within an inch or two (sometimes only a few centimeters) from the reader, which allows efficient transmission of energy.

NFC is almost exclusively used for high-speed data transfer between two electronic systems, like a smartphone and a payment reader in the checkout line, or two smartphones exchanging data, for example.

NFC has two particularly noteworthy features.

First, NFC enables bi-directional communication through dual-mode hardware, so a device can act as both a reader and a tag. For example, you can “bump” two Android phones together and exchange information using the NFC standard, or set up a secure session to exchange crypto for payment.

Second, NFC allows communication from passive tags. For example, when you place your NFC-enabled credit card on a tap-to-pay credit card terminal, the energy from the NFC reader sends a burst of energy and excites the NFC chip in the card. At the same time the reader is verifying the card, the card is ensuring that the reader is valid. This kind of two-way processing isn’t something you can do with passive RFID; when the passive reader sends out a burst of energy, the passive RFID tag can only transmit back a number.