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NFC Tags How they Work

nfc tags

Here is a quick look at NFC tags and the technology behind all of the touching and tapping we are asked to do these days.

NFC tags work with induced electromagnetic fields over a very short distance. Most tags are passive devices that contain an antenna and a microchip. The antenna is a coil that picks up a magnetic field at very short range. Now get this. The magnetic field not only provides communication. It also provides power to the microchip. Passive NFC tags can be built into anything, including credit cars and clothes.

By the way, near field communication does not actually require “tapping” or “touching”. Taps or touches are just a way to make sure the NFC tag gets close enough to establish communications with the reader. The distance required is around one inch. NFC tags are typically the size of a coin, although a lot thinner and flexible.

The amount of information that you can store in an NFC tag is quite small. Usually, a small amount of text, such as your identity information. Most frequently, these tags are used as “keys” to unlock other forms of communication or authorize transactions. Near field communication transfers data a low rates. These rates are typically a few hundred kilobytes per second. Data storage is in the range of 50 to 2000 bytes, although this is increasing to 32 Kb.

If you are interested, you can read this detailed description of how NFC tags work.

NFC Tags – What can you do with them?

Quite a lot, actually. With NFC you can read a tag (small amount of data, slow communications) or exchange larger amounts of data faster between two NFC devices.

Here are some typical uses:

  • Simply touch your phone to promotional advertising and automatically transfer the information. Posters, signs and even magazine pages can be NFC enabled, replacing the QR code.
  • Touch your phone to the airport check-in kiosk to download your boarding pass.
  • Use your phone or NFC-enabled ID card as part of two-factor authentication.
  • Touch your phone to another NFC device to connect with it, or through it. You can now get routers with the “touch to connect” feature. Perhaps many IoT things will use NFC to connect to the cloud.

If you want to learn more and play with these NFC tags yourself, check out this beginners video.

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