Near Field Communication (NFC) is a wireless communication technology that allows the transfer of data between two devices, or between a device and a passive 'tag'. In 2014 some 278 million NFC phones are already in use, and by 2018 the number of NFC phones in circulation is expected to reach 1.9 billion (source: NDATE).
NFC technology is already widely available, and affordable, so the time is now to consider how it may be utilised to create efficiency within your business. The sophistication of NFC, and its potential to streamline and support efficient business processes, is in its simplicity. Once a tag has been encoded, the user simply touches an NFC enabled device (such as a smartphone or tablet) against a tag. This can launch an app and even pre-populate data within the app that relates to the tag. Forget lining up cameras with barcodes, just tap to identify or initiate - simple.
Applications for business efficiency. RFID, the precursor to NFC, has been used to simplify industrial business processes for nearly 30 years, particularly in warehousing, logistics and access control. As NFC becomes widespread and affordable, this previously expensive technology is now readily available to both the consumer and business. NFC is an exciting mobile technology for enterprise and field mobility offering:
- Electronic proof of presence. Simple check-in and check-out for fast and easy time and attendance. Confirm locations in areas that are remote or without connectivity.
- Streamlined workflow. Direct employees to perform tasks once they have tapped an NFC tag, even opening your Rugged Data app with pre-populated field or asset information.
- Improved data accuracy. Automatic identification of assets, equipment, or locations.
NFC, combined with the software services provided by Rugged Data, also adds tremendous value to companies seeking to:
- Improve accuracy and efficiency, reducing errors and time lost associated with transcribing data to back-end systems
- Indoors or outdoors, when location services such as GPS may not be available, NFC can accurately locate field personnel or assets.
- Monitor and document the progress of work in the field and communicate data to back end systems in real-time, or as soon as connectivity is reestablished or at predetermined intervals.
Any industry with field staff, remote assets or inspection/service tasks may find that NFC technology could greatly increase their efficiency, accuracy, speed of operation and quality of customer service whilst significantly reducing costs. If you are looking for a cost effective way to ensure contactless information exchange and data accuracy, Rugged Data has been built from the ground up to support the latest in automation identification technologies including NFC and barcoding. Contact Us to see how Rugged Data could help you increase efficiency in your business.
How does it work? NFC is a short range wireless technology that uses inductive circuits (interacting electomagnetic fields) instead of radio transmissions which technologies such as Bluetooth use. It's a special form of RFID technology with the difference that NFC has a working range of maximum 10 centimeters (4 inches) and can be set up for one- or two-way communication in one of the following ways:
- Reader/writer mode: A reader/writer(e.g. an NFC smartphone) can collect and/or write information on a smart tag. An NFC tag is essentially an integrated circuit containing data, connected to an antenna, and does not require any power other than through induction. NFC tags are widely available in many different forms, they can be fixed to mobile assets, permanent structures, or even carried by people as identity tags or wrist bands.
- Peer-to-peer mode: Allows an NFC device to exchange data directly with another NFC device, as used with Android Beam.
- Card emulation mode: An NFC device acts as a virtual smartcard when presented to a reader, secured to your identity and device via software. In the near future your mobile phone, which is possibly already NFC capable, could identify you for a number of services including commuting, loyalty cards and access control.