The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of physical connected objects which are able to send and receive data to and from other objects in the network. It is an exciting technology which is growing all the time - research has forecast the IoT market to reach a value of £1.2 trillion by the year 2020.
IoT and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology have grown side by side over the last few years, and in many cases, they overlap. That's because NFC enabled devices such as mobile devices and NFC Tags are able to form part of the IoT network, and in many cases, enhance it.
How does NFC benefit IoT?
There are several reasons why NFC looks set to shape IoT over the coming years. Below are some of the benefits which NFC can provide to IoT:
Global Smartphone Use:- there are already well over one billion NFC enabled smartphones on the market, and experts believe that this number will grow to 2.8 billion by the year 2020. Smartphone users around the world are already playing an important part in IoT; the user controlled NFC technology which they carry means they are joining IoT networks and playing an influential role in them.
Tap and Go:- the easy network access and opportunities for data sharing which NFC provides to IoT is made simple through a straightforward method of connecting devices - in many cases, all you need is a simple Tap or Swipe of a device. That means when an NFC device joins an IoT network, there are no data entry requirements or 'handshaking' needed.
Safe and Secure:- NFC can incorporate features which shut out potential eavesdroppers who are intent on compromising the security of data, such as hackers. The potential to build in these additional protections fits in well with IoT, covering one of its 'weak spots'. Wide open networks can be a problem, but this issue can be negated to some extent by using NFC with IoT.
User Control:- NFC actions begin with the user, unlike some 'sleeping' connected objects in the IoT network. This 'expressed intent', gives NFC an edge over other forms of connectivity in some respects, and means NFC has an important part to play as a user initiated part of the IoT network.
Adding 'Connectability':- NFC's ability to connect devices which are unpowered or 'sleeping' makes it a valuable asset to IoT networks. Anything from a Keyfob to a Beermat can be connected by embedded NFC tagging, and this ability is able to bring objects into an IoT network regardless of whether they are connected is hard to replicate.
Best for Business
The IoT has made a big impact in the business world, simplifying processes and driving up operational efficiency across a number of sectors; from manufacturing to construction, and health care to retail. Right at the core of this development has been NFC, and the two technologies look set to change the way in which we work for years to come.
On the factory floor, parts and products carry Workplace NFC Tags which allow them to connect in to the wider IoT network on site. This provides site managers with real time information on product and part numbers and location, allowing them to control production processes to a greater degree and use resources more effectively.
In construction, site managers are able to keep a firm grip on the whereabouts of plant and machinery while tracking the work times of their team members through our NFC Solutions such as 'Labour Time Per Location', feeding this information back through the IoT network to their head office. They use our Rugged NFC Enabled Devices, which are capable of withstanding tough environments, as a user controlled element in local IoT networks.
In health care, institutions are able to track the number of free beds which they have available for patients at any given time thanks to NFC tagging, and this information can be relayed to other parts of the wider connected network.
Closer to the consumer, retail settings such as high street shops are being revolutionised by IoT and NFC working in tandem. Stock control is made easier thanks to NFC tagging, while product information can be relayed to customers via NFC Tags embedded in product labels. NFC smartphones allow the IoT network installed in shops to follow the movement of customers on the shop floor, meaning they can track their buying habits and gain insights which can inform future marketing campaigns.
Happy at Home
Away from the business world, in our houses and apartments, NFC and IoT are also working together. Smart Homes could come to characterise consumerism in this century - residents are using IoT technology to control the heating, electronic appliances, alarms and lighting in their homes, giving us more control than ever.
NFC can play a big part in Smart Homes, offering the ability to pair devices which use varying communication technologies - Wifi and Bluetooth, for instance.
NFC also makes Smart Homes more user friendly, replacing password encryption with a simple Tap or Swipe. For devices with no user interface, such as small appliances or lighting devices, this ability to incorporate them in an IoT network through NFC can be key.
At the centre of the super simple controlled environment which is the modern Smart Home is the NFC Enabled Smartphone. Using it, Smart Home residents are able to maintain their network with the handy user interface provided by smartphone apps. All it takes is a Tap of your phone to monitor usage of meters, run diagnostics or even request a customer service call.
With NFC and IoT, smartphones can incorporate a growing number of appliances within their network. Take the washing machine for instance - if you have packed it full of clothes but don't want to run a wash late at night because of the noise, you can set the machine to switch on first thing in the morning thanks to NFC. That's just one example of the significant potential carried by NFC and IoT in a domestic setting.
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