Asset Tracking is the business in which RFID and NFC are used for the same purpose but also, they are very similar to each other.  

RFID and NFC, from their overlapping functionality, can easily confuse you.  

In this article, we will discuss some of the similarities and differences between RFID and NFC; highlighting the specific uses where each technology excels.  

On the social scale of technology NFC is the latest trend than RFID. Both RFID and NFC use radio waves to transmit information, like any other wireless standard like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.  

RFID is an acronym for Radio Frequency Identification, is the center for all kinds of contactless communication.  

NFC is definitely a subset of RFID but operates within the high frequency (HF) range of the RFID spectrum.  

RFID and NFC are based on the same underlying technology, but they differ in many important ways.

RFID and NFC Technology

What is RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)? 

RFID is a technology which enables digital data encoded in RFID tags (smart labels) is captured and read through radio waves.  

In RFID the data from a tag is captured through a reader device and transferred to store in a database.   

RFID Asset Tracking: 

Using RFID built reader in a computer system, you can easily scan more than one asset without physically seeing them.  

In RFID Asset Tracking process, the RFID reader can get accurate scans even if it is kilometers away. 

With this technology, it is very easy for a person to get dozens of scans in just a few seconds.  

The RFID tag can store maintenance activities related information and sensor data that can be read and written by a field technician.

RFID Asset Tracking

Multiple advantages of RFID asset tracking are:  

  • Reading multiple tags at a time
  • Tags can be integrated with sensors and GPS technology
  • Improved asset security through real-time alerts and alarms
  • Time spend over inventory information can be reduced
  • Important service information can be stored on the assets itself

What is NFC (Near Field Communication)? 

NFC stands for Near Field Communication; it is a subset of RFID.  

It is an extension of high frequency (HF) RFID, which is characterized by simple tags that work in very short range (typically half an inch).  

The technology used for working of NFC is based on previous RFID ideas, i.e. use of electromagnetic induction to transmit information. 

NFC Asset Tracking:

With an NFC tag attached to each asset, manages the information and the data is read by NFC phone.  

Through NFC Asset Tracking, it is possible to track which asset has been tagged, who is reading the tag, its geolocation with its actual trace time.

Advantages of NFC in asset tracking: 

  • You can scan NFC tags with mobile devices
  • Capable of two-way communication
  • Communication is of low proximity, few centimeters
  • Scan of one NFC tag at a time

Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About NFC for Asset Tracking

What is the major difference in RFID and NFC? 

On their working: 

RFID: It is typically a three-part system.

  1. Tag  
  2. Antenna 
  3. Reader 
Working of RFID

NFC: It is a single device and can act as both. 

  1. Tag  
  2. Reader
Working of NFC

On their frequency range:

RFID: It has 3 frequency range.

  1. Low frequency (LF) 125-134 kHz; range – up to 10 cm
  2. High frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz; range – up to 30 cm
  3. Ultra-high frequency (UHF) 856-960 MHz; range – up to 100 m

Time for connection is less than 1 milliseconds.

Its tag reader is fixed infrastructure reader and handheld reader.

NFC: It has a high frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz of RFID, but it ranges from 0 cm to 10 cm.

Time for connection is less than 1 milliseconds.

Its tag reader is one i.e., smartphone.

On their essentials: 

RFID: It is an item centric.  

Talking about history, it was invented in the 1980s.  

RFID improves on printed barcodes. It does not require line of sight. It has increased read range. They can be read quickly in batches.  

It ID’s which are stored and transmitted is simple. Inventory is tracked through the supply chain.  

It creates loss prevention.  

NFC: It Is user-centric.  

It was invented in recent time in the year 2002.  

NFC improves on QR codes. This doesn’t require any line of sight. This has increased security with added intelligence.  

It can store and transmit multiple data types and also adds utility to the products during their use.  

It creates product authentication. 

On their types:

RFID: RFID: There are two types-  

  1. Active – The active RFID owns a power source and has a broadcast range of up to 100 m. it is ideal for the material location.
  2. Passive – The passive RFID does not own any power source instead it is powered by a reader. It has a read range from near contact of up to 25 m.
Types of RFID

NFC: There are two types-  

  1. Active – The active NFC device, for example, a smartphone, it does not collect any information from NFC tag, but it can rather exchange information with other compatible phones or devices. It can also alter the information in NFC tag if authorized.  
  2. Passive – The passive NFC device, for example, an NFC tag, contains information read by other devices. It cannot read any information on its own. It only transmits information to other devices.
Types of NFC

Also Read: How is Asset Tracking Using NFC Different from Other Technologies?

Conclusion: 

RFID and NFC are basically doing the same thing but technically they are different. NFC is an advanced version of RFID you can say.

Many of times RFID is beneficial and, in many cases, NFC is more appropriate. You can track your assets more keenly and accurately with NFC asset tracking.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1. Is NFC same as RFID? 

No, RFID and NFC are not the same things but these two are similar wireless communication technologies, used in many cases. Where RFID has 3 levels of frequency ranges for its communication and NFC is an HF wireless communication technology with a very short range of up to 10 cm. 

2. Which is better NFC or RFID?

RFID and NFC both have their own beneficial qualities. Their service results will depend upon your requirement of work. You can choose between both, according to your priorities and requirements. 

3. Can NFC be used as RFID?

Yes, NFC can be used as RFID. NFC can surely fulfill the purpose of RFID to track and trace items or products. It is a communication technology between two devices. 

4. What can you do with NFC tags?

NFC (Near Field Communication) tags are small integrated circuits that are designed for storing information which can further be retrieved by NFC-enabled devices example, the smartphones. NFC tags can be small stickers in round or square shape. 

5. What are the advantages of NFC?

NFC is a short-range wireless technology which allows the exchange of data between two devices. It allows exchange between short distances only about four inches (10 cm). 

6. Is NFC necessary?

NFC allows the exchange or transfer of data when the two devices are very close to each other. It is an advanced version of RFID. No, NFC is not actually necessary, but people do prefer the built-in feature compared to the app they need to download. 

7. Is NFC faster than RFID?

Yes, NFC is faster than that of RFID. The range of NFC is 10 cm. NFC operates at 13.56 MHz and at rates up to 424 kbit/s. 

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