NFC Enabled iPads: Coming Soon To A Store Near You?

NFC DeviceNear Field Communication, commonly referred to as NFC, is a newer technology that has the potential to drastically change the way information is exchanged.  We’re not just talking about using a cell phone as an electronic wallet, but in general the possibility of any device constantly interacting and communicating with it’s immediate surroundings.

How NFC Works

As opposed to the radio transmission technology used by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, NFC utilizes electromagnetic radio fields. With NFC communication, there is an initiator and a target.  Since the initiator powers the target, NFC devices use less power than Bluetooth devices.  Also, this communication method connects faster than Bluetooth, allowing for quick data exchange.  On the downside, NFC has a shorter range than Bluetooth, which is 8 inches.  For this reason, the two NFC devices would need to be in close proximity in order to communicate.  A major advantage with an NFC enabled device is that it’s able to communicate with both active and passive devices.  What this means is that an NFC device would be able to obtain information from a tag, sticker, or card.  This opens up world of possible ways NFC devices could be used in business and society.

Possible NFC Uses

It’s really amazing how many ways NFC could potentially be used, and within a few years people’s smart phones may be able to interact and exchange information with much of the surrounding environment.   Basically imagine everything you would carry around in your purse or wallet.  Car keys, bus passes, business cards, house keys, debit cards, credit cards, etc. could all be replaced by your smart phone within a few years.

By setting up your NFC enabled smart phone, the environment around you can change to your personal preferences and the need for a wallet or key chain disappears.  For example, think about your routine of getting ready for and going to work.  You wake up and put your NFC smartphone in your pocket or NFC enabled watch on.  Your device is preloaded with all of your personal settings, preferences, and bank account information.  You walk into your bathroom and sensors connected to your stereo system, lighting system, and the climate control unit all recognize your device and adjust the environment to your preferences.  After leaving the house, the NFC enabled locks in your car unlock the door when you get close by.  Seat settings, music, and climate control all adjust to the preferences you previously specified.  Stopping by the gas station, a swipe of your phone close to a NFC enabled device allows you to pay for your gas and a coffee without the need of a physical credit card.

In-Store NFC Uses

Near Field Communication TechnologyWhile many of the above mentioned uses of NFC are feasible, we may not see full integration for another 5 years or more.  However, the practice of using NFC in stores and at businesses has already been tested and is picking up momentum.  Major brands such as MasterCard and Visa announced digital wallets they are developing that will allow customers to make payments at stores with the swipe of a cellphone.  In addition to using a cellphone as a payment device, the use of QR codes may diminish as links to websites and videos can be transferred through NFC, eliminating the need to take a picture of a QR code with a phone’s camera.  Additionally, patrons visiting a business can receive coupons, media, announcements, etc. by simply placing their device next to a NFC tag or device.


Although not mainstream yet, some experts believe NFC could become integrated into many facets of our daily lives.  With certain Android phones already equipped with the technology and rumors that the next generation of iPhones and iPads will also be NFC enabled, we may see NFC being used regularly sooner than later.  If you are a retailer or store owner, be on the look out for near field communication technology and consider if there is any way it can be used to enhance a customer’s experience.  Possibly, in the future setting up an iPad kiosk with an NFC enabled iPad will provide the easiest way to transfer information to your customers.

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