What Is the Difference Between NFC and RFID?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsWhat Is the Difference Between NFC and RFID?
RFID Journal Staff asked 8 years ago
Are they the same technology? If not, how do they differ?

—Name withheld

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Near Field Communication (NFC) is a type of radio frequency identification technology. NFC-based solutions employ passive high-frequency (HF) tags and are based on the ISO 14443 standard for short-range, secure communication.

NFC was designed by Nokia, Philips (now NXP Semiconductors) and Sony. However, the technology has some special capabilities not found in other HF systems. For instance, NFC readers have an “emulation mode” in which a reader can simulate a tag. The value of this function is that you could, say, purchase a movie ticket on your phone and then swipe that phone near an NFC-enabled turnstile at the theater. The phone’s NFC reader, in this case, acts like a tag that is interrogated by the turnstile’s reader.

One of the main goals of NFC’s creators was to enable easy and simple connections between electronic devices. When such devices connect to each other via Bluetooth, or to a Wi-Fi network, there is an electronic “handshake” that occurs—a passing back and forth of information to authenticate the devices and establish a connection. Because each NFC tag has a unique ID number, the connection is quick and simple. Often, when two devices connect, they do so via NFC and then utilize a Bluetooth connection to share information since Bluetooth can be faster.

NFC is a very exciting form of RFID that will deliver a lot of great benefits to consumers.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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