History of Near Field Communication

Content Created
By Tanya Wozniaki

As it spreads rapidly through parts of Asia, Europe, and the United States, near field communication technology is adopted by more and more companies. Manufactures make smartphones with NFC chips embedded in them and businesses install compatible card readers at checkout registers. Yet near field communication didn’t spring up overnight. In fact, it traces its roots back to RFID, or radio frequency identification.

NFC is a subset of RFID. It uses radio waves to send signals between devices with the difference between the two lying in the fact that NFC only works when two devices are within 4 centimeters of each other. A smartphone will send out a signal which a NFC tag installed inside a movie poster or a card reader intercepts and interacts with. The phone and tag communicate back and forth to send information or complete a transaction.

Today the growth of near field communication technology is facilitated by the NFC Forum. Founded in 2004 by Sony, Nokia, and Philips, the NFC Forum creates the technical specifications that those developing NFC compatible devices and NFC tags must follow. This ensures any NFC device can communicate with any other NFC device, one of the major factors in making NFC technology simple and fast. If only certain devices could interact with others, the technology’s complexity would increase and individuals would quickly lose interest in its possibilities.

As more companies, such as Google and PayPal, offer near field communication services, more people will try the new technology and more businesses will support its use. A form of the technology, known as FeliCa, is well-known in Japan and NFC is expected to take off in the United States as a simple, contactless payment system within the coming years.

NFC Forum: About NFC