Near Field Communication (NFC) For Beginners

What is Near Field Communication and how does it work?

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a wireless communication technology similar to Bluetooth but rather than requiring someone to set it up, NFC connections are made automatically when devices are held within two inches of each other and the transfer of data is completed.  Two devices may include; a smartphone and NFC tag.

NFC Data

Typically, NFC is used to transfer data from one device to the other. You may use NFC to pass data between an NFC enabled smartphone to an NFC Tag or to another NFC enabled mobile phone, from a mobile phone to a payment terminal or from an NFC tag to a mobile phone.

Custom NFC Tags - Automated Assembly Corporation®
NFC Tags with Patented Wire Write Technology by Automated Assembly® Corp.

What is NFC used for?

Near Field Communication has a growing number of tasks and automated uses. Current applications include contactless payments, marketing and advertisement tracking, security and access control, product identification and information, location identification, mobile phone task launcher apps, events and many, many more.

And the great part is that all of these applications require just an NFC enabled smart phone to get started.

NFC in Advertising

NFC tags placed behind ‘smart posters’, integrated into brochures (or beer mats!), pens, window stickers and other items provide simple one-tap access to videos, websites, Facebook pages and more.  NFC tags are now being used provide easy data logging of cleaning routines, medical care and security checks.  NFC tags are being embedded or stuck onto products for one-tap download of user manuals and for product identification to help prevent counterfeits and monitor stock movement.  NFC tags are being embedded into wristbands or cards for access control or ‘closed-loop’ payments at trade shows, festivals and other events.  Home users are now using NFC tags for one-tap access to today’s weather, or to turn on their Wi-Fi, put the phone in silent mode, send a text message and much more.  NFC tags are being placed in tourist signs to provide instant access local information and on bus stops so users can get one-tap real-time waiting time information.

Do you need experience?

The beauty of NFC is in its simplicity. Once the tag has been encoded with the desired information or action, the tag is ready to use.  The user simply touches the back of the phone against the tag and your smartphone will launch the URL, application or information stored on the NFC Tag.  No scanning with a camera on a QR Code or barcodes, no downloading apps, just place the smartphone near the NFC Tag. It’s that simple.

How near is 'Near Field'?

Near Field Communication technology only works at close distances – typically about two inches or less. The close range makes NFC perfect for individual interaction and security, meaning the tags can only be read by the touching action and is therefore a specific part of the appeal of NFC as opposed to other longer-range technologies that may be intercepted.

How is NFC used for mobile payments?

NFC payment is becoming more prevalent and used to pay for purchases via your smart phone and a payment terminal device.  NFC has a number of significant advantages, not least of which is its ability to only work in close proximity.

Most analysts project that mobile based payment technology will grow significantly due to its convenient and simple nature of payment. The smart phone is like your wallet, no one leaves home without it.

What phones have Near Field built-in?

Almost all new smartphones now have NFC chip built-in.  In fact, 9 out 10 of the top mobile manufacturers have now adopted NFC.  Apple’s iPhone is the only major smartphone without NFC support.  Apple is projected to be in the iPhone 5 and later models.  Since the rest of the market is NFC compatible Apple must conform or be left behind.

What is an NFC Tag?

Think of an NFC tag as a really small memory device, like a USB stick, but with an antenna attached so it can send its data wirelessly.  It contains no batteries and gets all its power from just being close to the mobile phone.  Commonly, a tag will be a sticker, perhaps the size of a postage stamp or embedded into key fobs, wristbands, posters, magazines, products and lots of other things. By touching a smart phone to an NFC Tag the data contained on the tag is delivered to your phone instantly.

NFC How do I get started?

Buy a few NFC Tags and get started.  By learning more about programming an NFC Tag with your smart phone you will be able to save time and increase your smart phone experience. Smart phones are not just for texting and talking, they now can program NFC tags that do things.

To buy NFC Tags send an e-mail to

Get a starter pack of tags with 10 tags to a package for $10.00 plus shipping.  All Rugged Tag® products are tested to ensure they are the best quality on the market today.

If you have a particular application in mind send us an email or give us a call at 952-469-6556 and we’ll give you all the information you need about NFC.