History of Near Field Communication

Near field communication (NFC) traces its roots back to radio-frequency identification (RFID). Indeed, NFC is actually a subset of RFID with a shorter communication range for security purposes. In 2004, Nokia, Sony, and Philips came together to form the NFC Forum. This group is dedicated to promoting the security, ease of use, and popularity of near field communication. It aims to educate businesses about the technology and upholds standards that allow NFC to operate between different devices. Those who wish to create NFC compliant devices must meet these standards set forth by the NFC Forum. This ensures that any user with any NFC device can use it with any other NFC device or NFC tag.

Though the NFC Forum formed in 2004, it wasn’t until 2006 that the group produced the first set of specifications for NFC tags. NFC tags are small objects, like a sticker, that contain information that a NFC compatible device, such as a smartphone, can intercept when passed over the NFC tag. The information on the tag is usually read-only, but certain tags do allow the device reading it to write new information to it or alter old information on the tag as well.

In 2006, the specifications for “smart” posters were created. Smart posters hold information that an NFC compatible device can read when passed over it. It can provide all manor of information, such as information about a famous piece of artwork hanging in a museum or a short biography of a famous person’s life on a poster with their image on it.

The first NFC-comptabile cell phone, the Nokia 6131, also surfaced during this time. As the years passed, more specifications emerged and the technology grew from payment methods to sharing videos, links, and game invites between smartphones and other NFC devices. Android produced its first NFC phone, the Samsung Nexus S, in 2010. Today the NFC markets are most dominant in Europe, Asia, and Japan, though the United States is also seeing rapid growth in this field. It is estimated that NFC will soon evolve into a popular form of payment and data exchange technology in the United States.

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