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What is NFC Antenna?

NFC in its technological expression, is a set of communication protocols that make it possible for two electronic devices sharing a close distance to connect. The distance has to be 4cm and in most cases 10cm or less, else no communication will be initiated.

Introduction

If you’ve been hanging around the tech space for a while now, you must have heard of the term NFC. Inevitably, this leads to a few buzz around it since its gaining prominence by the day. Questions like; what is NFC Antenna? And what is it used for? Are also part of the buzz being generated around the subject which is normal. If you’re still trying to wrap your head around the concept, don’t sweat it further. Pay attention to this article as it’s going to simplify it for you.

Without further ado, let’s quickly delve into the meat of the matter.

What is NFC Antenna?

For starters, an antenna is any part of an electronic device used to receive and transmit signals from that device. It is either external or internal, but the purpose is the same. Traditional antennas used to be large and visible like that of transistor radios or black and white TVs.

That’s the perfect picture that comes to mind when an antenna is being mentioned. If we go by that picture, you will clearly understand what NFC antennas are and their function in the NFC technology.

With that definition in mind, let’s blend it with antenna and NFC for a clearer picture that starts with the meaning of NFC.

NFC is simply an acronym for Near Field Communication. It’s one of the numerous means of wireless communication between two devices just like Bluetooth, infrared, RFIDs, and perhaps Wi-Fi.

Just like its name Near Field implies, the communication between both devices is only going to happen when they are closer to each other or at least share the same Radio Frequency (RF) field.

Merging both, you can now see that the NFC Antenna is the media that facilitates the connection between two NFC devices in close contact. In essence, if there are no NFC antennas in both devices, or one of the devices as the case maybe, communication will be impossible.

But unlike the traditional antennas, these NFC antennas are hidden inside the devices. They aren’t lengthy, bulky, and protruding out of the device. They are smart innovations reduced to the barest minimum that they can be as tiny as a micro sim card.

The Design of NFC

NFC in its technological expression is a set of communication protocols that make it possible for two electronic devices sharing a close distance to connect. The distance has to be 4cm and in most cases 10cm or less, else no communication will be initiated.

It deploys a radio frequency of about 13.56 MHz to establish a communication that is the standard frequency globally available. While the NFC operates at a frequency of 13.56 MHz, the rates (speed) are ranging from 106 kbit/s to 424 kbit/s.

The design works by an initiator that creates the Radio Frequency to power a passive target. In this case, both devices do not need to be NFC-powered just like in tags, keycards, login cards, and the like. They only need to have digital NFC tags that can store personal information to communicate with the radio frequency.

However, for peer-to-peer communication, both devices need to be NFC-enabled. This is exactly what happens in file sharing between two Android NFC-enabled smartphones.

Where can NFC Antennas be found?

NFC antennas are found in a couple of devices. They are in smartphones, tags, readers, scanners, data loggers, and many others. For mobile devices, only a handful of them permits the NFC technology due to the vast popularity of Bluetooth wireless technology and Wi-Fi that are used for communication.

Applications of NFC Antenna?

The NFC antennas are applied in the following ways;

Smart Contactless Payments

The NFC has a number of useful applications and is more common in revolutionary smart payment systems. The Android Pay and Samsung Pay systems are facilitated by NFC antennas. Your NFC-enabled device simply connects with the NFC reader when brought close to it and payment is made. The NFC emulates your credit card and creates a single-user transaction key that only you can use to pay at the register in a simple “tap to pay” manner.

File Sharing in Mobiles

NFC is used to pair two devices together to share data with either the use of Android Beam or tap to pair. Two NFC mobile devices brought in proximity effectively pairs with a single tap to share media files, documents, or anything that is permitted to be shared by the NFC technology in the devices. Most android device users with NFC antennas can easily tap to pair and share data between their devices thus eliminating pairing codes in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi’s. This is easier, faster, and more effective.

Connected Products

The NFC technology is extremely advanced. As such, its antennas and tags are lightweight, durable, and tiny enough to fit into physical products. Any product with an NFC tag comes with a digital identity. This implies that the product can be connected to a computer and is visible online. Although the product is physical, with an NFC tag, it has a presence online. So shopping malls can keep tabs on all products within their warehouses or shelves using the NFC tags.

Identity and Access Tokens

NFC antennas are located in keycards, passports, transit passes, fare cards, login cards, and access badges. These are used across numerous organizations in the world today. With the NFC, you simply flash your login/access card over a digitalized door and it reads immediately to grant you access to a building. This is possible with the RFID technology which is the foundation of the NFC-enabled devices and cards.

In Printing

These days, printers are NFC-enabled so you can print documents straight from your NFC-enabled smartphone using the NFC technology. This is super easy and faster. 

NFC-Enabled Devices

Android smartphones lead the way when it comes to deploying NFC technology. In 2011, more than 40 key players in the smartphone manufacturing industry released NFC-enabled devices under the Android platform into the market. Blackberry devices in their heydays also used the NFC technology.

In 2012, Microsoft embedded the NFC in its Window’s phones and Windows 8 operating system.