What Are NFC Tags? — Complete Guide

Stfalcon.com
11 min readJul 27, 2023

Lately, NFC technology has woven itself into the fabric of our lives, finding diverse applications in unexpected places. It silently impacts your daily routines, facilitating contactless payments through your smartphone at stores, just a glimpse of its true potential. But NFC’s prowess extends beyond that horizon.

Together, NFC and NFT forge a new realm where every physical entity is granted a unique blockchain identity, an unparalleled fusion. Embracing the duality of NFC tags, they seamlessly usher an object’s value into the metaverse, fortified against the shadows of counterfeiters.

By employing the proprietary technological DNA afforded by NFC+NFT applications in artworks and beyond, one could avert any possible attempts at falsification.

What Are NFC Tags?

NFC, a unique amalgamation of radio-frequency identification (RFID) and Bluetooth sets itself apart with precision and versatility. Unlike RFID, NFC tags thrive in close proximity, ensuring more accurate interactions. And unlike Bluetooth, NFC doesn’t require manual device synchronization, simplifying the user experience.

The beauty of NFC lies in its two-way communication capability, making it ideal for transactions reliant on data exchange between devices. From popular mobile wallets like Samsung Pay, and Android Pay, to Apple Pay and others, NFC technology is at the core of seamless transactions.

NFC tags empower gadgets to extend their reach, fostering connections with other devices within a maximum range of 3.9 feet. From file sharing to managing electronic payments and controlling home appliances, all can be accomplished with just a single touch. Moreover, the use of NFC tags provides an added layer of security, shielding files and information from potential interception by malicious devices.

What is Near Field Communication

The abbreviation NFC stands for Near Field Communication. This is a technology for wireless data transmission over a short distance: the communication radius doesn’t exceed 3.9'. Information from objects is read using a radio signal.

The main advantages of NFC technology:

  • high speed of establishing a connection between objects (the process takes a fraction of a second);
  • the small size of the device;
  • low power consumption.

Thanks to these features, NFC tagging can be integrated into small gadgets. It should be noted that the speed of information transfer through this communication protocol is relatively low, and the amount of data is small. Despite this, the NFC function in a smartphone is convenient and multifunctional.

What are NFC Tags and What does an NFC tag look like

NFC tags, these tiny magical stickers, hold the power to trigger specific smartphone commands upon approach. Their affordability makes them accessible tools for accomplishing a multitude of tasks. However, writing information onto NFC tags necessitates specialized applications, while reading and writing data demand a smartphone equipped with an NFC chip.

Imagine sticking an NFC tag onto your laptop or computer, and programming it to enable your smartphone’s mobile internet sharing via Wi-Fi. When your computer loses its internet connection, a simple touch of your smartphone to the tag activates tethering, instantly reconnecting you to the online realm. With NFC tags, convenience, and connectivity intertwine in a seamless dance.

Difference Between Passive and Active NFC Tags

Within the realm of NFC tags, two distinct types reign: active tags and passive tags. The typical NFC tag belongs to the passive category, harmoniously communicating with active NFC tags and other NFC-enabled devices. Active tags, on the other hand, serve as controllers, directly integrated into smartphones, while those placed on connected surfaces or devices bear the title of passive tags.

NFC passive tags function as information carriers, allowing other gadgets to access their content. These tags draw their power from external sources and, in turn, lack the ability to read and transmit data themselves.

As for their applications, passive NFC tags often shine in supply chain management, document tracking, and access control scenarios, while active NFC tags, boasting a self-contained power source, transmitter, and receiver, possess the prowess to both send and receive signals autonomously. The interplay of these two varieties empowers a diverse array of NFC-based solutions.

Components of an NFC Tag

An NFC tag includes three main components: a chip, an antenna, and something that holds it together.

  • NFC chip. It is a small microchip and contains a memory that stores information. An NFC chip stores various data such as images, email addresses, phone numbers, and website links. This data is stored in NFC Data Interchange Format for ease of transfer.
  • NFC antenna. This is the part of the NFC tag that detects radio waves. It is shaped like a loop of wire engraved on the NFC tag.
  • The part that holds it together. This part holds the NFC antenna and NFC chip together. The biggest part of the NFC tag can be in plastic or sticker, depending on the type of NFC tag.

You can choose from NFC stickers, NFC tabs, and NFC discs.

How NFC Tags Work

NFC tags harness the magic of radio waves to facilitate seamless communication. In this enchanting dance, two players come into play: the NFC tag and the NFC reader, orchestrating an exchange of information in the NFC data format. Remarkably, this enchantment unfolds within an incredibly short distance, a mere 3.9 inches, and the NFC tag cleverly draws power from the other device, bypassing the need for its own battery.

To ensure smooth and secure interactions, an NFC reader connects with a single NFC tag, minimizing the risk of accidental transactions. When payments come into play, encrypted data flows between NFC chips, allowing users to make contactless payments without relying on physical cards; their mobile phones can effortlessly store payment information. For the magical inscription of data onto the NFC tag, mobile applications like NFC reader, NFC Tools, and other enchanting offerings from the AppStore or Google PlayMarket serve as conduits of this mystical art.

Main Types of NFC

Different NFC chips have different memory capacities and different settings. This affects the amount of information that you can store on a particular chip, as well as its lock type and other important factors.

NFC device chips are divided into the following types: Ultralight, Ultralight C, Standard (Classic) 1K, Desfire 4k, and the new NTAG203. Each NFC tag differs in the amount of memory, and the speed of writing and reading NFC tags, as well as in protection against collisions that occur when data is transmitted simultaneously by two sources.

How did NFC tags become popular?

Back in 2004, when Philips, Sony, and Nokia united to form their own NFC forum, this groundbreaking technology remained hidden in the realm of enthusiastic techies. Their grand vision encompassed researching, promoting, and, naturally, reaping commercial benefits from the novel realm of contactless data transmission. However, progress seemed elusive, and their achievements merely appeared as trinkets and toys.

Then came the pivotal year 2011 when Google stepped into the fray, and the true awakening of NFC technology commenced. With NFC chips finding their way into most Android smartphones, a new era was ushered in. Users swiftly embraced the convenience and security offered by Google Pay — no more tedious password entries; card readings became swift and error-free.

Perhaps the most astonishing revelation was the obsolescence of the traditional bank card — everything needed was nestled within the smartphone’s memory, transforming it into a secure and versatile digital vault. The metamorphosis had begun, forever changing how we interact with payments and transactions.

How to Write Data on NFC Tags

To get the most benefits of NFC, it is essential to learn how to program NFC tags. Luckily, the NFC programming process is quite simple.

What is NFC Tag Programming?

To imbue an NFC tag with purpose, you must script the actions you desire it to execute. Luckily, a plethora of free apps awaits in the Play Store, ready for download and activation on your device. Of course, before diving into this enchanting process, don’t forget to awaken the NFC capabilities of your smartphone. Only then can you unlock the true potential of your NFC tag, setting it on a path to perform its programmed feats?

NFC Programming Requirements

If you want to start programming an NFC tag, you should have:

  • Blank NFC tag. You need an empty NFC tag or a tag that you no longer need. It’s very cheap and you can buy it on eBay or other online stores.
  • An NFC-enabled Android device or iPhone. To verify this, check the specifications of your phone. Also, please note that only iPhone 7 and newer can write NFC tags.
  • An app to program your tags. There are many free apps in the Play Store such as Trigger, NFC Tools, and NFC TagWriter by NXP. And we will take “NFC Tools” as an example to show you how easy it is to program an NFC tag. Compared to other NFC tag writer apps, NFC tools are easier to use.

NFC Programming for Android

  • Turn On NFC on Your Android Device. To switch it on, you need to visit settings-Bluetooth & Connections-Connection Preferences-NFC-Toggle and click ON. In some smartphones, you may see the NFC settings under the “Network and Sharing” option.
  • Install an NFC tag Writing Application on Android. After turning on your NFC, you need to go to the Google Play Store and install an NFC tag writer app, for example, NFC Writer by Trigger.
  • Launch the Trigger App. After the installation, you need to Press YES to launch. After opening the app, continue with tag writing. Click on the “plus” located on the extreme bottom right. It will create a new task, which is the initial phase of writing the Android NFC tags.

How to program the NFC Android tags with “Write” ( NFC Tools)

  • Open NFC Tools APP. Choose NFC Write
  • Add a record, You will see various options of what to write to your tags. For example, the URL so select the URL/URI option to enter a URL.
  • Enter Your URL, It is recommended to “Select the protocol “https://”, and write the URL: https://www.google.com. Then click OK.
  • Click Write, and Choose to Write.
  • Write the Tag, Now, place the prepared NFC tag on the smartphone’s NFC chip location
  • Add a Task, Here are many task options, and you can choose whatever you want. But first download NFC Tasks APP,
  • Read NFC tags, Now put your phone on the NFC tag to see all the beauty of NFC technology.
  • Read Tag Details, You can scan the tag and you will know the type, serial number, size, memory information, data format, etc.

NFC Programming for IOS

First, you need to install an NFC app from Apple Store. You can choose NFC Tools or NFC Writer by NXP. In this guide, we choose NFC Tools.

  • When the installation is done, you have to open the NFC tool application. You’ll be able to select WRITE.
  • In the next stage, you’ll be able to create a record. Click on it to enter the data.
  • Add your record. There are a lot of records you can add depending on your needs. For example, you can add a website’s URL, a command, or other information you want.
  • Confirm Your Data. After the confirmation of data, it’s time to write your NFC tag.
  • Prepare the iPhone NFC tag. After confirmation, place a blank NFC tag on iPhone’s NFC chip location. Then click on WRITE.
  • Process Complete! You’ll get a notification that the writing was successful.

What is an NFC reader?

An NFC device operates at a frequency of 13.56 MHz and consists of an NFC tag reader and an antenna, or a tag and an antenna.

How do NFC readers work?

Like a conductor of invisible symphonies, the reader orchestrates an RF field that harmoniously interacts with either a tag or another reader. With its active communication mode, the reader takes on the role of an NFC device, ensuring seamless exchanges within its realm. On the other hand, the tag assumes the position of a passive communicator, working hand in hand with the reader while operating in its own NFC device mode. Together, these two magical entities create a symphony of near-field communication, weaving connections in the realm of unseen wonders.

NFC Advantages

While NFC is widely recognized for its application in contactless payments through smartphones, it possesses a vast and enchanting array of possibilities beyond this popular use case. The wireless interface of NFC extends far beyond the realms of mobile payments, offering a magical tapestry of functionalities waiting to be unraveled. Let your imagination roam, for NFC’s potential is not bound by the limits of a single application; it is a gateway to a world of limitless connections and possibilities.

Instant Data Exchange

In a blink of an eye, the connection speed between devices clocks in at a mere 0.2 seconds. This lightning-fast interaction spurred a decision to employ this swift interface within the contactless payment system. The need for speed, after all, lies at the heart of seamless and efficient transactions, making it the ideal choice to weave enchantment into the world of contactless payments.

Wireless Connection

Imagine the seamless harmony as your smartphone effortlessly pairs with NFC-enabled headphones and speakers. With just one touch, the connection sparks to life, creating a safe haven for transmitting flawless audio, untouched by interference. However, every tale has its twist, and in this enchanting saga, the range might be the only drawback — a small hurdle to overcome.

High Level of Security

In the realm of NFC, security reigns supreme, guarded by the impenetrable walls of encryption. Applications like Apple Pay embrace NFC’s protective embrace, ensuring your precious data remains shielded from prying eyes. Within the NFC chip, a signal jammer metamorphoses, thwarting any attempt to breach its mystical fortifications. The magic of NFC extends beyond mere convenience, weaving a tapestry of safety and protection.

No Need for a Network Connection

NFC tags possess a unique enchantment, operating independently of WiFi, 4G, 5G, or LTE connectivity. This mystical quality enables users to wield their powers even in the absence of an internet connection. Like weaving magic in the air, users can effortlessly transfer data, make payments, access restricted areas, and partake in NFC-enabled services, all within the grasp of this wondrous technology, regardless of the presence or absence of the internet’s invisible web.

How Businesses Are Using NFC Tags?

Effortlessly boosting profits while nurturing customer payment habits via phone is a breeze, all thanks to NFC technology that brims with a plethora of benefits.

Contactless Payments

The magic of the microchip lies in its PAY services principle: enabling seamless one-touch payments through smartphones. Implementing a similar payment approach for your customers will effortlessly resolve the issue of those without bank cards, offering them a convenient solution.

Data Transfer

You can select multiple data and tap on Android Beam in the Share menu. Data transfer is possible via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Ticketing

NFC-capable devices find applications in various areas, such as concert tickets, movie screenings, and public transportation. Numerous businesses and public transit services have integrated NFC technology into their operations to offer enhanced services.

Identification and Access Control

NFC is used for identifying team members who access select areas. People can use their devices to open doors at the office — no need access card.

Conclusion

This blog post delved into the world of NFC, covering its definition, functionality, and practical applications. NFC tags, being an affordable and impressive technology, are now widely supported by smartphones. As an individual, there are numerous creative ways to experiment and utilize NFC tags for various purposes. As an entrepreneur, you can think about how to use NFC technology to make your products stand out, if you are interested, just contact us.

Originally published at https://stfalcon.com.

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Stfalcon.com

IT company designing custom web services and mobile apps. Our goal is to create useful and convenient software. We are the founder of the Air Alert app