Part II – Asset Tracking And NFC Tags – The Pros And Cons
Happy New Year! Whilst it’s been some time since our last blog post [only because we’ve been VERY busy developing an incredible array of new products for you in 2016…so stay tuned!], we’d like to pick-up where we left off with a blog post on the pros and cons of NFC tags as they relate to the business of asset tracking.
NFC: Quick recap
NFC stands for near-field communication – a technology that is based on RFID, but standardised for consumer smartphones. NFC uses electromagnetic induction in order to transmit information between 2 devices [peer-to-peer] by touching them or putting them very close together [i.e. less than 10cm]. Because NFC is essentially a derivative of HF RFID, many of the features and principles apply as outlined in our previous Playing off HF & UHF RFID blog post.
NFC technology has generated quite a bit of buzz in recent years – albeit around contactless payments via smartphones or wearables. But what about applications for asset-intensive enterprises and how might NFC help?
Whilst there are some nifty things about NFC, there are also some limitations and drawbacks. So here are a few pros and cons that are important to be aware of if you’re contemplating an NFC-based system for tracking and managing your assets.
Easier to deploy – Users don’t need to purchase additional [expensive] hardware in order to read NFC tags if NFC-enabled smartphones are utilised
Open, standards-based – The underlying layers of NFC technology follow universally implemented standards so theoretically this should result in less custom [costly] development
Improves authentication – Facilitates “proof of presence” applications by eliminating opportunities to falsify records. It can also be used to validate the authenticity of documents, goods and additional items for brand protection and other purposes
Convenience – NFC allows users to combine components from their wallet and phone; minimising transactions times and the amount they have to carry
Reliable data transfer rates – Because of the close range between tag and reader, NFC is less prone to communication gaps or environmental interference when, for example, compared to longer-range UHF RFID-based systems
Energy efficiency – NFC typically consumes less power than other types of RFID and doesn’t require manual pairing like Bluetooth
Security – NFC prevents retailers from having physical access to your credit card. Mobile devices can also require an unlock passcode as opposed to a physical wallet
Limited read range – Their close read range means NFC is not suitable for fast-paced, complex applications that require multiple tags to be read simultaneously or where data has to be collected from assets that are difficult to reach
Slow data transfer rate – NFC data transfer rate is slower than other types of RFID as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
Cost – Like any wireless asset tracking technology there will be costs associated with the deployment of an NFC-based asset management system
Security – Having personal and financial details stored in a device can be a risk in terms of cyber-hackers
There are many potential uses of NFC, but due to the fact there’s only so much it can do in terms of speed, read-range and data transfer, today’s applications still tend to be around:
- Access control
- Healthcare/patient identification & management
- Information collection and exchange
- Marketing [e.g. smart posters], loyalty programs & coupons
- Mobile payments
- Transportation ticketing
And other one-scan-at-a-time applications.
Whilst there’s allot of hype around NFC, there are important considerations when it comes to the business of asset tracking and management applications. Where appropriate, it enables users to improve accuracy, authenticity, productivity and minimise errors, as well as achieve cost savings from both a materials and labour standpoint. However in order to achieve these, it is crucial that organisations understand the differences between NFC and other forms of wireless asset tracking technology in order to deploy the right solution for their specific business application.
Still have questions?
Call Relegen on +61 (0)2 9998 9000 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org – we are here to help you with your asset intelligence technology investigations!