NFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology that enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 cm distance.
NFC is an upgrade of the existing proximity card standard (RFID) that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device. It allows users to seamlessly share content between digital devices, pay bills wirelessly or even use their cellphone as an electronic traveling ticket on existing contactless infrastructure already in use for public transportation.
The significant advantage of NFC over Bluetooth is the shorter set-up time. Instead of performing manual configurations to identify Bluetooth devices, the connection between two NFC devices is established at once (under a 1/10 second).
Due to its shorter range, NFC provides a higher degree of security than Bluetooth and makes NFC suitable for crowded areas where correlating a signal with its transmitting physical device (and by extension, its user) might otherwise prove impossible.
NFC can also work when one of the devices is not powered by a battery (e.g. on a phone that may be turned off, a contactless smart credit card, etc.)
There are many other uses for NFC as well. Examples include:
- Paying a fare on public transit, such as a bus or train
- Confirming your ticket at a concert or sports event
- Syncing workout data from a fitness machine with your device
- Viewing special offers on your phone when you enter a store
- Loading information about an artist or piece of art at a museum
- Viewing a map and related information at a national park
- Loading a translated menu at a restaurant
- Checking in and checking out at a hotel
- Unlocking an NFC-enabled door lock