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What Are NFC Tags?

NFC (or Near Field Communication) Tags are the next big thing in wireless sharing.  NFC has been around for a while, but only now have things started coming together for this new fad technology.  Derived from radio frequency identification or RFID, NFC involves short-range radio wave transmission between a reader and a passive electronic tag.  From the tag you can receive information, authentication and tracking.  This is a two-way radio communication process that is normally carried out over distances of no more than 4 inches.

NFC technology first appeared on the scene in 2006 with the Nokia 6131, and just this year Sony introduced their NFC “Smart Tags”, paired with the Sony Xperia P Smartphone, which change modes and profiles on the smartphone from close range.  An NFC-enabled smartphone acts as the initiator in the communication process, using magnetic induction to emit a radio wave that the passive tag can detect and access, sending back information wirelessly.  The Nexus S running Android is a NFC enabled phone, or with a newer Blackberry or Nokia, all you have to do is download a suitable app and you can be encoding NFC tags in seconds.

The passive tag, which can be found in stickers and even wristbands, is basically a tiny microchip with aerials that can store a small amount of transferable data.  This could be a printed ad, a URL, or even a telephone number.  The great thing about NFC tags is that they don’t require power, they simply rely on the radio frequency created by a smartphone, to be able to instantly relay information.

NFC Technology has been criticized for being excessively slow, compared to its WiFi and Bluetooth rivals, when it only has a maximum data transfer speed of 0.424Mbps.  However NFC does have some clear advantages over Bluetooth.  Not only does it consume a mere 15mA of smartphone battery power, but it also misses out the crucial ‘pairing process’ involved in Bluetooth sharing.  Accessible in all kinds of places, NFC tags only require a tap from a smartphone to be activated.

Along with QR codes, NFC Tag Technology is proving to be the future of wireless sharing.

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