Near Field Communication (NFC) a contact-less way to interact has three different modes?  Most people do not realize that.  These different modes facilitate a variety of interactions and we are going to explore and explain all three.

NFC Reader/Writer Mode

In my opinion one of the most well known modes is the Reader/Writer mode.  This mode allows smartphones and other devices that are NFC enabled to read information from an NFC tag.  These tags could be on products, posters, embedded into paper, and even power historical trails!

For example, a company would write data to their NFC tag and then it can be read by their customers an guests.  This is great for increasing consumer engagement!

NFC Peer-To-Peer Mode

I am going to rename this the Pokemon Mode and will explain shortly.  So Peer-to-Peer mode allows to NFC enabled devices, most commonly smartphones to share and exchange data with each other.  For example, when I bought my wife a new phone, I used peer-to-peer mode to transfer all of her data to the new device.  NFC for this usage makes life wonderful, especially for phone upgrades.  Now, let’s get back to Pokemon.  Pokemon Go said that in late September of this year, Pokemon Trainers could trade Pokemon with others by holding their phones together.  This is very likely going to use Peer-To-Peer.  Now a fun fact is that Apple has peer-to-peer locked out and only supports NFC for Apple Pay.  Pokemon Go says that Apple will support the trading of Pokemon in this way.  Could we be looking at Apple opening up NFC to developers in iOS 10?  I am not going to hold my breath, but it is possible.

NFC Card Emulation Mode

This mode is primarily used for NFC devices, such as smartphones to act as cards.  This allows users to utilize the technology to buy tickets, pay for goods, and other things with just a touch.  In this mode, the NFC device communicates with a reader (payment terminal for example) and allows for contact-less payments.

Below is a great image from the NFC Forum that sums up these three modes in a very easy to use way.  NFC is gaining traction in the USA and is set for exponential growth.


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