What’s an NFC? (Near-field communication)

Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

During my time after graduating from Flatiron, I wanted to keep making sure that I’m always learning new things that have to do with technology. I have made a commitment to the #100DaysOfCode, which if you’re unfamiliar with, no worries here you go. Challenge yourself!

I wanted to pick a new topic at least once a week and if possible put it to use to get a full understanding. However, this one took a little longer than expected because I actually needed to get my hands on some hardware. Here we go!

1. What are they?

More than likely you have been exposed to the use of an NFC at some point. I’ll give you a hint. (look below)

Photo by CardMapr on Unsplash

Believe it or not, this is an NFC at work! An NFC stands for Near-Field Communication.

Standard phone (left) and the Touchpoint (right) found on most pin pads.

2. How do they work?

For NFC’s to work, there has to be at least two items that want to exchange information. I’m going to be using the example above for the duration of this blog so bear with me. First off, the phone has to have an NFC chip, now in this example, most phones have this capability which is good.

Secondly, you’re going to need another piece of hardware that has an NFC chip again, in this case, a pin-pad that has the capability. In this scenario, once you’re ready to pay the pin pad activates its NFC touchpoint and is ready to receive information. Then you proceed to get your phone near the NFC touchpoint, the two pieces of hardware share information, your payment is processed and you're done!

One last piece of info. Inside the NFC chip is a small amount of storage as well as a small amount of wiring that sends radio waves which allows the two items to talk to each other.

3. What are the drawbacks?

The only real drawback in this day of age where a lot of pieces of tech have NFC capabilities, the only real 2 drawbacks is… range. The essential distance that you have to have the items is 4 centimeters. Any more than that and you won’t be able to do any information exchange.

Secondly is storage. Now I’m talking more on the DIY side if you we’re interested in getting an NFC pack and doing cool stuff with it. Since the NFC has a small storage space, the number of things you could put inside of it is limited. So a word of caution on the ideas you might have in your projects.

Final Thoughts? What can you do with it?

So in turn the capabilities are endless with the things you can do with NFC’s and there's even a number of NFC packs that you can buy on Amazon to get started, I’ll link it here. You can look up some other blogs that have projects already made. As for my project blogs, you can expect them in the following weeks!

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