NFC: Parsing Near Field Communication Technology

We are all used to such a reality in a smartphone like NFC. And everything seems to be clear with this.

Many do not buy smartphones where there is no NFC, thinking that this is only about shopping. But there are a bunch of questions.

But did you know what else this technology can do? What to do if your smartphone does not have NFC? How to use the chip in the iPhone not only for Apple Pay? Why doesn’t it work, especially with World cards?

And through it you can charge devices …

Today we will tell you how it works and analyze all the details. And most importantly – why is this the most underrated technology in your smartphone!

How does NFC work?

You probably know that NFC stands for Near Field Communication or, in Russian, short-range communication.

But this is not the usual data transmission over the radio wave. Unlike Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, NFC is trickier. It is based on electromagnetic induction. This is a very cool thing from the school curriculum, let me remind you.

The idea is that you take one conductor in which there is no electricity. And put next to it a second conductor, in which there is electricity. And you know what? In the first conductor, where there was no electricity, current begins to flow!

Cool, yeah?

When we first found out about her, we thought that this was impossible! Seriously? You drive! Let’s go play Counter Strike, boys.

Well, when you bring the smartphone to some NFC tag without power, this tiny electromagnetic field from the smartphone is enough for the electrons to run inside the tag and the microcircuits inside it.

Oh yes. Each tag has a tiny chip. For example, in bank cards, the microchip even launches a simple version of Java. What?

Maybe you still heard the abbreviation RFID. It was developed 30 years earlier. It stands for Radio Frequency Identification. And in fact, only for identification and suitable. Many office pass centers still have RFID.

So NFC is an advanced branch of the RFID standard and reads some of these tags. But the main difference is that NFC can also transmit data, including encrypted data.

NFC operates at a frequency of 13.56 MHz, which allows you to develop a good speed from 106 to 424 Kbps. So the mp3 file is downloaded in a couple of minutes, but only at a distance of up to 10 cm.

Physically, NFC is a small coil. For example, the Pixel 4 is attached to the cover and looks like this.

And so on Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro:

And then it’s time to talk about what NFC can do?

The operation of this technology and related ones, such as RFID, are described in the standard ISO 14443. There are still a lot of things piled up: for example, the Italian protocol Mifare and VME are in bank cards.

NFC is a kind of USB Type-C in the world of wireless technology, if you know what I mean.

But the main thing is this. NFC can work in three modes:

  1. Active. When the device reads or writes data from a tag or card. By the way, yes, the NFC tags you can record.
  2. Transfer between peers. This is when you connect wireless headphones to your smartphone or use Android Beam – remember this. There, an NFC connection took place, and the file transfer itself was already via Bluetooth.
  3. Passive. When our device pretends to be something passive: a payment card or a travel card.

Why NFC, if there is Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, because they have both speed and range.

NFC bonuses are:

  1. Instant connection – one tenth of a second.
  2. Low power consumption – 15 mA. Bluetooth has up to 40 mA.
  3. Tags do not require their own power.
  4. And not so obvious – a small radius of action, which is necessary for security and payment.

True, there is still Bluetooth Low Energy, but this is a different story.

What for? What does this give us?

In addition to the already obvious scenarios: passes, payments and travel cards – there are applications that can deposit money on a Troika card and other transport cards.

There is an application – Bank card reader. For example, it can show the latest transactions on the card. Not sure if this is very ethical, but the application is in the Play Market.

By the way, many are interested in why Google and Apple Pay do not work with World cards? It’s not about the technical features. Just the payment system did not agree with the services. You can pay through your application for Android – Pay World. True, it is buggy, but under the iPhone it is not at all!

By the way, life hack. If your Android does not have NFC, but I really want to pay, what should I do? You can put the card under the cover. Contact. True, thick covers may not let the waves of even the built-in NFC pass – so check.

We already talked about devices, but there is a second important part – these are NFC tags. They come in two forms.

  1. Those on which you can record information. They look like little stickers. Usually available memory is about 700 bytes. Similar produced by Sony.

Here you can store a bunch of everything, for example:

  • Wi-Fi access for guests
  • Write down contact information and use as a business card
  • Set your smartphone to go to sleep at night on the nightstand
  • You can also save some data into it, for example, a password or a token from BitCoin. Only better in encrypted form.

This tag will read any phone with NFC.

What if you don’t have NFC tags? They can be ordered, they cost a penny.

But you can take an ordinary bank card or a transport card, such as Troika. This is a private label. A typical example is your bank card. You can’t record anything on them.

But your smartphone can be programmed for any action when such a thing is attached to it.

If you have Android, you can install an application for example MacroDroid or NFC ReTag. You can assign approximately the same actions to NFC tags in them. Turn on / off Wi-Fi and call, launch applications, turn on night mode. For example, you can make it so that when you put the phone on the Troika card, it automatically opens channel droder. Recommend!

By the way, this is what the contents of Troika look like.

You can also read on Habr.com about the dude who implanted an NFC tag in his hand.

What else can NFC be used for?

One of the promising pieces is electronic tickets. At the cinema or at concerts. Now they are doing it through a QR code and this is not so cool, in my opinion. Although millions of Chinese people disagree with me.

About Apple

What to do if you have an iPhone? Everyone thinks that access to NFC is closed on the iPhone, but it is not. Starting with iOS 11, that is, from 2017, Apple has opened access for developers. And already there are many applications similar to those on Android. For example, NFC Tools.

True, there are restrictions: transport and bank cards, for example, are not scanned. We need special tags, which we have already talked about.

What to do? IOS 13 introduced the Team Function (Siri). And so she just has access to any NFC tags. So here you can configure the launch of music on the Troika card. Or turn on the smart light bulb. Or a bunch of things. Teams are really a bomb thing. I don’t understand why this is still not in Android.

Charging

If for this moment you decided that you know everything about NFC and are tired of these dull applications. That is something bombing for you.

There is such an organization NFC Forum, which certifies NFC. In general, each technology has such an organization, and it is good if it is one.

And the other day they posted another update of the standard. And you know what? NFC now supports wireless charging. Yes, in fact, this is the fourth mode of operation.

How do you ask? Electromagnetic induction, remember? With the help of her.

By the way, Qi-charging works exactly the same way. Only there is a larger coil.

But there is one problem. The NFC’s coil is small, which means that the charging power is small – only 1 Watt.

Is it possible to charge a smartphone at that speed? You should not even try. However, they did not come up with a function for this.

The main purpose is exactly the opposite – charging your smartphone with other devices. This is kind of reverse charging in Galaxy and other smartphones. For example, you can fuel the wireless headphones themselves, rather than a case from them. In fact, we have before us a very cheap wireless charging, which is in any smartphone and which is easy to insert into any smart device.

By the way, 1 Watt is not that little. For comparison, with all iPhones except 11 Pro, they put a 5-watt charge. And the power of reverse wireless charging in modern flagships fluctuates around 5 or 7 watts.

But there is one thing – on current models this feature will not work. Smartphones with such a chip will most likely begin to appear in a year and a half. So wait for the ad for this thing from Samsung.

Bonus for those who have read

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