Uses and applications
NFC technology is intended mainly for use in mobile phones. There are currently three specific uses for NFC according to the NFC Forum:
Reader/writer mode: the NFC device is active and reads a passive RFID tag. Example: smart posters.
P2P mode: two NFC devices exchange data. Example: virtual business cards or digital photos.
Card emulation: the NFC device behaves like an existing contactless card and can be used with existing technology infrastructures.
A wide range of applications are possible, such as:
Mobile ticketing for public transport including rail, metro, and airline journeys; movies; concerts; and sporting events. In the case of public transport, European passengers are using NFC-enabled phones to obtain schedule updates, register points of boarding and departure, automatically calculate fares, pay for trips and parking and purchase snacks., The business driver for ticketing operators is cost savings, as electronic ticketing is significantly cheaper than paper ticketing. Juniper Research forecasts that more than 15 billion mobile tickets will be issued by 2014, up from just two million in 2010.
Mobile payment: Telecommunications companies, banks, and other entities in countries such as Canada, Finland, France, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States and others, are testing and launching mobile payment services, which permit location-based commerce and peer-to-peer payments. Users can pay for goods using NFC-enabled devices, either NFC-enabled phones with stored data that act as a debit/credit payment card or NFC-powered contactless payment cards they touch to readers. Globally, 100 million people use mobile payment outside the U.S., but only 3.5 million use the technology in the U.S. After trialing solutions, many companies are launching nationwide services in 2010 and 2011, and a few have even targeted deployment to entire regions.
Smart posters and objects: NFC-enabled phones can be used to read RFID tags on commercial establishments’ signs for information or promotions or scan outdoor billboards. Smart posters have application across a wide array of industries, including public transport, retail promotions and event ticketing, among others. Other items, such as business cards, picture frames, bulletin boards, schedules, conference or study rooms and vending machines can become “smart” with NFC tags, permitting data exchange, launching applications, or granting usage privileges.
Bluetooth pairing: In the future, pairing of Bluetooth 2.1 devices with NFC support will be as easy as bringing them close together and accepting the pairing. The process of activating Bluetooth on both sides, searching, waiting, pairing and authorization will be replaced by simply bringing the mobile phones close to each other.
Emerging applications include:
P2P payment: Users can make payment to each other by tapping phones together and entering the amount of money to be transferred.
Identity documents: Governments, employers, and other organizations will use NFC to power contactless identity cards. Employee and student NFC cards will likely gain traction before national identity cards do, as single organizations can mandate usage more easily, and governments will need to allay citizens’ security concerns and work with international organizations to create and enforce security standards. The security of national ID cards and passports will be strengthened with biometric applications such as facial recognition or fingerprint swipes.
Mobile commerce: NFC can enable the delivery of in-store promotions and couponing, driving sales of products or value-added services. Meanwhile, smart posters enable consumers to gain more information on retailers or specific products.
Electronic keys: NFC-enabled phones can serve as replacements for physical car keys, house/office keys, and hotel room keys. As such, NFC-enabled devices can be used by hotels and rental car companies to provide VIP service to customers. In corporate settings, NFC-enabled devices can control access to facilities and computer networks while also authenticating users.
Ubiquitous information applications, such as audio tour guides for art museums or public monuments, book sales and lending, movie trailers, DVD rentals, and music purchases. Users can touch NFC-enabled phones to smart posters or tagged items to hear marketing information or view or hear media.
Health and safety applications, such as water monitoring; diet, diabetes, blood pressure, and alcohol consumption monitoring; home healthcare visits; and campus safety check-ins. In these scenarios, NFC-enabled phones and tagged items are often paired with other devices to provide consumers with personalized services and facilitate exchange of encrypted private data to doctors or other healthcare workers.
Social networking: Users can exchange contacts, resumes, and location-based personal networks using NFC-enabled phones or smart business cards and P2P file exchange. In addition, they can alert friends to their location, check into commercial establishments to gain rewards, and rate products and services in real-time. Google is among the companies pioneering location-based rating services with its Google Places services, which has now been extended to several U.S. cities.
Smart mobility: Consumers can obtain access to shared car and bicycle services and search for rides with carpoolers.
Entertainment: Consumers can use NFC-enabled phones to participate in multiplayer games, create and track athletic challenges and participate in urban games.
NFC can be used to configure and initiate other wireless network connections such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Ultra-wideband.
A patent licensing program for NFC is currently under development by Via Licensing Corporation, an independent subsidiary of Dolby Laboratories.
A public, platform-independent NFC library is released under the free GNU Lesser General Public License by the name libnfc.
In December 2008 the application eCL0WN was released which allows you to read and copy the chip content of biometric passports.