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how does NFC work?
Jan 23, 2019

Before we know how does NFC work, we should know what NFC is. Just like Bluetooth and WiFi, and all manner of other wireless signals, NFC works on the principle of sending information over radio waves. Near Field Communication is another standard for wireless data transitions. This means that devices must adhere to certain specifications in order to communicate with each other properly. The technology used in NFC is based on older RFID (Radio-frequency identification) ideas, which used electromagnetic induction in order to transmit information.


This marks the one major difference between NFC and Bluetooth/WiFi. The former can be used to induce electric currents within passive components as well as just send data. This means that passive devices don’t require their own power supply. They can instead be powered by the electromagnetic field produced by an active NFC component when it comes into range. Unfortunately, NFC technology does not command enough inductance to charge our smartphones, but QI charging is based on the same principle.

The transmission frequency for data across NFC is 13.56 megahertz. You can send data at either 106, 212, or 424 kilobits per second. That’s is quick enough for a range of data transfers — from contact details to swapping pictures and music.


To determine what sort of information will be exchanged between devices, the NFC standard currently has three distinct modes of operation. Perhaps the most common use in smartphones is the peer-to-peer mode. This allows two NFC-enabled devices to exchange various pieces of information between each other. In this mode both devices switch between active when sending data and passive when receiving.


Read/write mode, on the other hand, is a one-way data transmission. The active device, possibly your smartphone, links up with another device in order to read information from it. NFC advert tags use this mode.


The final mode of operation is card emulation. The NFC device can function as a smart or contactless credit card and make payments or tap into public transport systems.