NFC Technology: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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“NFC” stands for Near Field Communications. The smartphone above contains NFC technology that lets you use the phone as a badge for accessing ticketed events. NFC isn’t exactly a new technology, but the fact that it might be used in the iPhone 6 has got lots of people excited. Here’s what you need to know about NFC, how it works, and the rumors that it will be used in the iPhone 6.

1. NFC Is Related to RFID Technology

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In the image above, a Fujitsu employee demonstrates the company’s NFC-supporting wearable device. The device reads NFC tags, and displays that info on a head-mounted screen.

NFC is somewhat similar to RFID technology, but with a key difference. As one Stanford webpage explains, NFC differs from RFID because of its more limited range. While RFID tag range can vary based a number of factors, the range is generally between 20 and 300 feet, though they are sometimes only effective in a three-foot range. In contrast, NFC technology has a range of about four inches.

That difference in effective range might make you assume that RFID is the superior technology, but NFC is actually the newer of the two technologies. Additionally, NFC is ideal for close-quarters, secure payments. IF you’ve ever used a “bump” to send funds or contact details between two smartphones, a NFC chip was probably what let you do that.

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2. NFC Might Be Used in the iPhone 6

ZDNet reports that the iPhone 6 might support NFC technology, and that Apple might be able to make the technology more user-friendly than Android phones have managed to do so far. Here’s what they write:

“To date, NFC is a nice technology that was built to advance radio-frequency identification. The implementation of NFC has been clunky to say the least. Most of us wouldn’t notice if NFC somehow was removed from the phone completely.

The user workflow is one reason we’re not all tapping our phones to pay for goods. Samsung talks about beaming docs and files with NFC, but few of us actually do it in the wild. And informal poll around the office found many of us have NFC turned off.

Here’s the issue: There aren’t any applications that would give us a good reason to turn NFC on. Maybe Apple can.”

If the rumors pan out, the iPhone 6 will be the first smartphone from Apple to incorporate NFC technology.

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3. NFC Can Help You Automate Tons of Tasks

Check out the video above to learn more about home automation with NFC.

NFC has tons of applications in everyday life. Lifehacker put together a list of NFC uses, including automatically turning your computer on when you get home, or automatically launching your favorite GPS app when you dock your phone in your car. CNET also suggests using NFC technology for streamlining your Evernote access or just pranking your friends.

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4. You Can Buy NFC Tags Cheaply Online

On Amazon, you can buy 10 NFC tags for under $11. You can watch the CNET video above to learn how to program these tags with an Android phone. The process is surprisingly simple, even for a technophobe.

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5. NFC Might Replace Your Wallet & Cash in the Future

Listen to the podcast above, which talks about the rise of mobile ticketing and NFC tech.

Forbes recently ran an article that predicted NFC could make your wallet obsolete. In the future, NFC chips in your smartphone or in your clothing could make payments possible without cash or credit cards. NFC technology is part of the “Money 3.0” movement, where cash is phased out in favor of more secure, digital payment technologies.

Here’s an excerpt from the Forbes article that makes some interesting predictions:

“No cash registers may mean no robberies. Banks will be safer as the incentive to rob them will decrease as does the cash on hand. Pickpocketing has already dropped significantly, particularly in countries with easy access to cashless payment and security cameras. There is no incentive for thieves to steal wallets if they only contain family photos.”

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