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NFC provides a better retail user experience than Bluetooth LE

With Apple's introduction of iBeacon & Bluetooth LE (BLE) some have proclaimed the end of Near Field Communication (NFC). These two technologies are very very different. BLE is measured in meters where as NFC is measured in centimeters but the real difference is the user experience & power consumption.

BLE is a PUSH technology for the user. A retail mobile app can deliver promotions to the consumer's smartphone when she is in vicinity of a BLE beacon. Seems to me that this is highly susceptible to miss-use, i.e. spamming the user. Depending on the situation the user might want to turn that off.

NFC is a PULL technology for the user. The user scans an NFC tag only if they want more information about a product or service. BLE is not designed for this kind product/location granularity.

BLE and NFC consume very little power on standby (on the order of uA) where as BLE will be power hungry during all those push messages. This will drain the battery fast. NFC does not suffer from constant push.

One more issue for the retailer is that BLE beacon's have batteries that have to be changed. NFC tags are dirt cheap do not have batteries.

I may be biased here but I personally like NFC in retail because it provides a better user experience, uses less active power and less maintenance for the retailer! What do you think?

This blog post was originally posted on the author's blog. It has been reposted here with permission.

About this Blog

The TrustPoint Innovation Blog covers security industry topics relating to Certificates, Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC), Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communication, Near Field Communication (NFC), Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communication, and more.

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