NFC: technology and practical use


A smartphone is a multifunctional gadget that can partially or completely replace several wearable devices at once. Its owners are freed from the need to buy a bulky digital camera and camcorder, do not need a wristwatch, can watch videos, listen to high quality music, search for any information on the Internet and play sports. The number of smartphone functions ultimately depends only on the power of the device and the set of installed software.

One can easily imagine how much the use of a modern mobile phone makes life easier for travelers for whom every kilogram of luggage is important. The functionality of the smartphone camera is somewhat limited, but the quality of the photographs is not inferior to good amateur cameras. And some professional photographers use the device in their daily work.

Of particular interest for everyday use is NFC technology - Near Field Communication. Translated into Russian, the term means "near field communication". To understand what NFC is, you have to go a little deeper into the technical details.

How technology works

At its core, NFC (nearby device wireless communication technology) is a special case of the more general RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) method. This is an RF data exchange mechanism that works using special RFID tags and readers. A device that provides the NFS function also has a reader (reader) and an active antenna. Instead of a reader in more budget models, an RFID tag can be installed, that is, a device that works only in passive interaction mode.

The reader generates a low-power RF field, detects another device (tag or reader) and can interact with it. This is the very essence of NFS technology.

Now it has become clear what NFC support is in a smartphone. This is the possibility of contactless communication between two devices using this technology. Devices that support this technology can operate in one of three modes:

  • Emulation of a bank card. The most popular and demanded way of using technology. A device that has the NFS function can work like a regular bank contactless card. Used when making payments in stores. Of interest to users are the payment systems Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
  • Peer-to-peer communication (P2P mode). Two smartphones that support the technology can communicate (interact) with each other in order to transfer files, contact information and other data.
  • Read/Write. Installed in salesrooms, bank branches and other organizations working with the public, smart displays and posters contain embedded RFID tags. Devices capable of operating in this mode read information from tags. It is possible to establish a connection with another such smartphone for reading or writing data.
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The latter mode can be very interesting and attractive to users. With it, you can get information about the timetable of transport, access important information about tourist routes and perform many other actions related to obtaining data that is in the public domain.

Types of communication

An NFC chip is a small device in a smartphone that supports the technology. It is this detail that is capable of providing communication of one of two types:

  • Active - the device generates an electromagnetic field and transmits commands, after which the field is turned off, the device receives a response.
  • Passive - the device only receives a signal and executes commands.

Active communication is used only in peer-to-peer communication, and passive communication is used in all three known modes.

Security questions

What is NFS in a smartphone and how to use the technology has become completely clear. But many users are concerned about security issues. Sometimes you can find opinions that payments using a smartphone, for all their convenience, are unsafe. It is alleged that scammers can use a wearable terminal and, simply by approaching the victim, steal money from her account.

Such a situation, on closer examination, does not appear to be possible. No card data is transmitted to the terminal - only an encrypted, specially generated one-time token. Attackers will not be able to get access to the card if it is intercepted.

Yes, and the very interception of data is very problematic due to the small radius of action. The same popular Bluetooth technology is much more vulnerable, not to mention Wi-Fi networks. Another level of protection involves using a password or scanning a unique fingerprint when making contactless payments. Attackers will not be able to use the stolen phone as a means of payment.

So, NFC - what it is and how safe the technology is, it became clear. The opportunities that it provides to the consumer are used by hundreds of thousands of people around the world, without thinking about its essence and principles of work. It is unusually convenient, so it is hardly possible to justifiably refuse to use it. NFC is one of the brightest and most sought-after technologies of our time.

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