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BlogsAsk The Experts ForumCan a Smartphone App Be Set to Function Only When in Range of an RFID Tag?

Can a Smartphone App Be Set to Function Only When in Range of an RFID Tag?

Posted By RFID Journal, 10.02.2014

Could I build a smartphone app so that if an RFID tag was in range of the phone's NFC reader, it would act as a key to make the app work, rather than a trigger—that is, the app would only work if the reader and tag were in range of each other?

—Name withheld


Before I answer your question, let me point out that the Near Field Communication (NFC) reader incorporated in the new Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+, as well as in many Android phones, is designed to have a read range of only a few inches. This is because it is designed primarily for financial transactions and device-to-device communication, and you would not want to link to dozens of nearby devices or pay for things other people are buying at nearby counters. So when you say the app would work only if the reader in the phone was in range of a tag, keep in mind that that we're talking about a very short distance. The phones do have Bluetooth capability, so you could possibly use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons for your app, if you require a longer read range.

Your question really is a software or app-development question, not an RFID question. Apps interface with the NFC reader and Bluetooth based on the operating system, as well as restrictions put in place by the handset manufacturer. When you read a tag, the serial number is captured, so I do not see why this cannot be used as a password to make the application work. The thing is, you would need to define which serial numbers from which tag would serve as passwords.

If you want all NFC tags to enable the app to work, I think it would be a matter of creating a field that would be populated by a tag's serial number, and then writing code that says, "If this field is blank, stay locked. If this field is populated, unlock."

Perhaps some of our readers who have developed NFC applications can comment further. If so, they are invited to post information below.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal


glen paais 2014-10-12 03:30:21 PM
halo, my name is Glen from Indonesia, I'm write my paper about RFID be connected with "mark of the Beast". could you give some argument about this. please send it in my email: glenpaais@gmail.com... thank you very much
Ryan Haugarth 2014-10-14 08:28:24 PM
If you control the physical space where the interaction between smartphone & RFID tag will take place, you could deploy a converzone beacon. This would allow your app to passively detect which RFID tags are in the same zone and unlock the desired mobile app functionality. Contact us and we'd be happy to discuss further. Ryan www.converzone.com
Pierre Levy 2015-06-25 04:10:45 AM
Can you recommend a person that could guide me to create a product using RFID chips, in conjunction with NFC Reader. Thanks

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