Monday, January 9, 2012

What is Near Field Communication - NFC

Diabetes patients always have to check the sugar level in blood. Carrying sugar level checking machine everywhere is not possible. But everybody carries mobile with them. What if your mobile has an ability to check the blood sugar level?
Your wife is on shopping. She is in a shop looking at wonderful jeans she always dreamed and suddenly she founds her wallet empty. Now being a poor husband you don’t want to hurt her and out of fear you are ready to give more money, but you found yourself out of cash and no ATM center nearby so that you can go to the ATM, withdraw money and pay the bill. You have the mobile in your hand. What if mobile has an ability to give money to your wife account?
You and your family have decided to go for a vacation with no prior planning. As a matter of fact you want to get the railway tickets. Queue is huge and no possibility of reaching to ticket counter for next few hours. You have the mobile. What if you hold your mobile phone in front of a device and you get the tickets immediately within seconds?
Your colleague is in office working hard to solve a problem. You are on vacation. He calls up you and discusses the problem as he is real need to solve it. You understand problem and draws a solution on paper. Now you need to send this drawing to your collegue but you don’t have scanner not the computer and internet connection. You have mobile. What if you scan the drawing and send the file immediately from your mobile itself?
All anecdotes described above are quite easily possible now with new buzz word in technology – NFC Technology.
NFC technology is slowly acquiring every industrial field including medical field as well.

What is NFC?
NFC stands for “Near Field Communication”. NFC is another form of wireless technology. Very much similar to current wireless technologies like Infrared, Bluetooth; NFC is short ranged wireless telecommunication technology.
NFC is new form RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). The typical use of RFID you must have seen outside ATM where no security guard is present. You have to hold you card in front of sensor and door opens automatically. This sensor and card uses RFID.
NFC allows a device to collect and interpret data from another closely location NFC device or tag (panel). NFC uses loosely coupled inductive circuits to exchange power and data (or information) over a short distance usually less than 10 centimeters. NFC tags are passive device and data stored can be retrieved using active devices. NFC tags can be produced at cheaper costs and they get embedded nearly in anything like sticker, posters, glass etc. Especially in Europe and Japan you will find NFC tags in stores used for payment option.
Near Field Communication uses radio signals for communication. For example, you want to transfer a file from one mobile to another mobile. You have to hold both the mobiles very near to each other. The devices then get connected and data get transferred in few seconds. Although NFC is very similar to infrared and Bluetooth, NFC takes lesser time in data transfer as compared to other wireless technologies.
How NFC is better than Bluetooth and Infrared –
Bluetooth already have latest and efficient versions in the market. We have very strong Wi-Fi connectivity options available in the market then why one would use NFC?
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are operated over few meters area ranging 1 to 100 meters. This means, any device present in 100 meters range can be contacted. Hence the communication over such a long distance is not secured. Sometimes a device can pair with your device (here device means mobile phone) unknowingly and can read sensitive information. Of course you can prevent by using security implications, but it makes the technology usability complex. NFC is better option in such scenarios. To effectively communicate NFC devices has to be in close vicinity of each other hence more secured.

NFC Benefits and usage -
 RFID Reader –
RFID is chip which contains complete information about a place or a thing. To read data from RFID chip one needs RFID reader. Near Field Communication device can be used for reading RFID information. For example, in hotel you have to hold your NFC enabled smartphone above RFID chip to read menu card in your smart phone. Apart from this let’s say if it is connected to internet then you can read opinions of other visitors about special dishes served in that hotel. Another example can be of guide in museum.

Option to Mobile money, Credit and Debit Cards –
Plastic money is a successful concept in banking field. Still the disadvantage is you have to carry your debit and credit cards along with you. If you are an account holder in various banks then you will need to carry respective cards of all banks. With Near Field Communication, your mobile phone will act as Credit or Debit card.
So instead of swapping card on device, you just need to hold your NFC enabled phone near NFC device and appropriate amount will be deducted. Every time you make payment using NFC enabled phone, secure PIN will be required to input making overall process secured. A real life example is “Google Wallet” application from Google. This application is provided on Android. Similarly City bank group, Master Card has stepped in NFC technology enabled applications and devices.
Data Transformation –
As described above, NFC is useful for transfer of any file from one mobile to another mobile.
Personal Money Transfer –
Money can be transferred from one account to another account through NFC enabled mobiles. NFC enabled money transfer is expected to spread worldwide in short duration.
Key-less Security –
Today we use key lock system for our car or home. In near future we can have NFC device lock to our home or car. To open lock we need to bring mobile near to lock and then mobile camera will use retina detection, voice recognition and biometric detection to open the lock. So you are free from carrying key every time with you.
Health Hospitality –
Whenever we go to the doctor (I wish you never come into situation to visit the doctor), the doctor will always first check up your sugar level, blood pressure and then starts diagnosis. Scientists are keen to develop fantastic devices using NFC which will capture all information of your health status and will be transferred to doctor’s mobile with the help of NFC. That means you just have to pair up your mobile with doctor’s mobile and then treatment will start.
NFC in India –
NFC has just arrived in India and expected to spread widely in daily use within a year. Recently Nokia and Paymet have started using NFC for mobile bill payment. Also Delhi metro uses same technology for ticket counters. Recently DOCOMO and Reliance have stepped in this technology domain. So in all Near Field Communication - NFC has bright future in India as well as World which will bring revolutionary changes in our daily lives.

Happy Communicating!!!

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