If you have this doubt, whether to use NFC or RFID technology, you are definitely in the right article!
Below you will find the main features of the two technologies and examples of their uses.
RFID and NFC are wireless technologies that are increasingly used in a variety of applications.
Let’s analyze them separately in more detail and observe the main differences.
An RFID system, to work correctly, must necessarily have 3 elements:
- Reader: has the task of requesting and receiving information from each tag;
- Tags (in this article we will take into account are passive ones): contains information about the item to which it is affixed. Once queried by the RFID reader, the tag will respond by providing the data that has been written within its memory;
- Software: has the function of managing and transferring data to and from the readers, and allows you to view all tagged items in a few minutes.
In this case, speaking exclusively of passive tags, there is one-way communication.
An NFC device, in addition to performing read/write operations, characterized by a unidirectional type of communication as in the case of radiofrequency technology, has two other modes of bidirectional communication:
- Card emulation: an NFC device in card emulation mode behaves like an NFC tag on a debit or credit card,
- Peer-to-Peer (P2P): this mode enables direct two-way communication between two NFC-enabled devices. To give a more practical example, by approaching two smartphones that support the technology in question, they will be able to exchange information of different types, such as images, videos, and other material in general.
In these two modes just mentioned, an NFC device can play the role of both reader and tag.
1. FREQUENCY RANGE
Communication frequencies between reader and tag depend on both the nature of the tag and the intended applications and are regulated (to control power emissions and prevent interference) by international and national organizations.
The main frequency ranges used are 3:
- LF (Low Frequency – 125-135 kHz): usable worldwide with limited reading distance;
- HF (High Frequency – 13.56 MHz): standardized by the ISO 14443 and ISO 15693 standards; it is used all over the world with a reading distance of up to 1.20 m;
- UHF (Ultra High Frequency – 860-960 MHz): limits are defined by the authorities of individual countries, which have different maximum powers and frequency bands. The reading distance is around 10 meters.
NFC can be understood as a subset of RFID technology, as it operates at a frequency of 13.56 Mhz which is the same as HF technology. However, the reading distance is smaller than the latter, being 10 cm.
2. DATA TRANSMISSION SYSTEM
But first, let me explain some concepts that will be fundamental to better understand the following lines.
RFID and NFC are data transmission technologies based on electromagnetic waves. The antenna of the RFID or NFC reader generates an electromagnetic field. The latter is the sum of two fields generated by the same source, one purely electric and one purely magnetic. The magnetic field prevails over short distances, while the electric field prevails over long distances. We can then define “near-field” as the portion of space crossed by the magnetic flux lines and “far-field” as the portion of space crossed by the electrical radiation.
RFID technology uses two operating principles:
In the near-field region, the interaction between the components is dominated by the magnetic field generated by the antenna, which induces an electric current in the tag by inductive coupling and allows the chip to be activated. The frequencies that exploit this type of coupling are LF and HF.
In the far-field region, the interaction of the components is dominated by the electric field created by the antenna. The RFID tag resonates with the frequency of the electromagnetic field and the generated current activates the chip. Electric field effects are dominant in UHF frequencies.
The NFC technology is based on the principle of inductive coupling (as is the case with LF and HF frequencies), that is, the applications operate in the neighboring field region.
3. APPLICATION SCENARIOS
Among the main uses of RFID technology are:
- Inventory management;
- Access control;
- Plant and machinery maintenance;
- Document Management;
- Brand protection.
NFC was created for the secure transfer of data. Specifically, Near Field Communication technology is mainly used for:
- Contactless payments;
- Transfer files;
- Access digital services;
- Product authentication and asset tracking;
- Enable wireless sensor applications.
Costs depend on many variables, such as the usage environment and whether or not an infrastructure exists.
However, in general, the cost of a UHF RFID tag is less than an NFC tag (consider that all NFC tags are HF tags, but not all HF tags are NFC tags). In both cases, chips that support encryption are more expensive. In addition to the cost of the chip, there is then to consider the cost of the antenna and support that contains the chip. RFID labels are generally the most economical format, while more specific tags intended for industrial applications are more expensive.
As for readers, the UHF ones have a higher cost, as more energy is needed to read the tag.
|Frequency Range||860 – 960 MHz||13,56 MHz||125-135 MHz||13,56 MHz|
|Reading Distance||10 mt||Up to 1,20 mt||Few cm||10 cm|
|Main Applications||Logistics, Inventory Management, GDO Tracking||Documents/Libraries Management, Access Control||Animal Tracking||Marketing, Contactless Payment, Access Control|
Yes, that’s fine, but the answer to “NFC or RFID, that’s the question” what is it?
In light of what is written, your final choice depends exclusively on your needs, since the two technologies were born to meet different necessities. It is, therefore, appropriate to research to better understand what are your needs and adopt the best technology for you!!!
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