Learn the technical details of near field communication (NFC) chips, along with the different chip types available for various use cases.
June 10, 2019
Blue Bite developed this article with partner Smartrac, a producer of NFC tags and inlays. Smartrac is the global leader in unique and scalable solutions that enable businesses to digitize products, complement their product offerings with digital services and connect them to the Internet of Things.
Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range wireless communication technology; end consumers tap their phones to a product with an embedded NFC chip. When that tag is encoded with a link to a Blue Bite Experience, the tap activates a contextual mobile experience on the user’s phone that is directly related to the specific product, creating a two-way communication channel between consumer and brand.
This makes NFC technology extremely versatile and suitable for a variety of different products, industries and use cases.
NFC is enabled when a compatible device — usually a phone — uses the 13.56 MHz operating frequency and is placed within a few centimeters of the NFC chip. NFC chips are passive, and work by using power supplied by the phone tapping it.
Because the communication range of NFC is so short and has a moderate sensitivity to interference, the information itself becomes fully secured once the tag is locked down during the encoding process.
As one of the leaders in Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID), Smartrac produces a variety of NFC inlays — NFC is a subset of RFID technology.
Below, explore the various NFC chip types.
Traditional NFC tags cannot be used on metal surfaces, but Smatrac developed special NFC inlays that work on metal by increasing the separation between the metal surface and the tag using a spacer with a thin ferrite/absorber foil layer. The Smartrac BullsEye Circus is an on-metal inlay that not only effectively attaches to metal, but also has a better reading range than the regular Circus inlay.
With superior readability, the Smartrac Circus NFC Wet Inlay is ideal for applications where small size, item-level tagging and high performance are required. A highlight of this inlay is its unique integrated circuit that comes with UID ID, which enables all the inlays to be read from an application perspective that does not require users to encode tags with various numbers.
Smartrac Circus Tamper Loop is a popular inlay designed for tamper detection and authentication. Tamper detection allows consumers to verify that a product remains in its original condition. For example, this inlay is often used to verify that fine wine and liquor bottles have never been opened. Consumers confirm this by tapping their phone to the NFC object; the resulting mobile experience lets them know if the bottle has been opened at any point.
Smartrac’s Temperature Logger NFC inlay is equipped with an embedded temperature sensor, real-time clock and date store. Because it’s a sticker, it can be attached to any object to monitor the temperature for a specific time slot from a computer as well as a phone. For instance, the temperature logger NFC inlay can be a great tool for seafood and fresh produce companies to track their perishable food.