How Is Near-Field Communication (NFC) Used?


Quick Answer

Near Field Communication is used in smartphones for certain everyday tasks, such as paying at the register, gaining private access to one's place of work and transferring files to friends. Other uses include the ability to scan an NFC tag that directs the device to a website that contains more information about the scanned product, such as nutritional information for a food item.

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Full Answer

NFC is a technology that relies on a short-range wireless connection to transfer a signal between the NFC-enabled antenna in a smart device and a chip known as an NFC tag. Smart devices use three different modes to carry out the signal: read-and-write mode, peer-to-peer mode and card emulation mode.

Read-and-write mode involves allowing a device to read an NFC tag found on a product, a poster or even a tag that the device's owner has purchased and configured. The device then performs the task for which the tag was configured.

Peer-to-peer mode allows a device to transfer data to another device by simply holding the two devices together. The mode allows the device's user to instantaneously transfer things documents, games and money to a friend.

Card emulation mode turns a smart device into an NFC card to be read by an NFC reader, similar to the way in which a device reads an NFC tag. The mode allows the user to use the smart device as a credit card for quicker payments at checkout.

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