White Papers

Practical NFC Range Limitations

Sadly, it can't always replace Bluetooth

Here at TapTrack, we regularly field inquiries about near-field communication applications that demand relatively long-range communication, such as indoor position tracking or anti-theft gates. Unfortunately, NFC usually is not a practical option for such uses due to its quite limited range. NFC Range Theoretically, for the 13.56MHz frequency used by NFC, the ‘near field’ ends at 3.5 metres from the antenna, but real-world range is a quite different topic. Since NFC tags draw their power from the reader’s field, the effective range is heavily influenced by the power of the field the reader is generating relative to the power the tag requires, which may vary depending on what the tag is trying to do.

Even easier NFC on Node with the TappyWrapper

Using the TappyWrapper convenience library to accelerate NFC application development

Previously, we showed how you can easily start developing NFC applications on NodeJS with a Tappy device using the TappyTcmpJs library. While that project was very short, much of the code we had to write was boilerplate for composing commands and making sense of the Tappy’s responses. This is necessary in order to take advantage of the full power of the Tappy family of NFC readers with all of their advanced commands and any custom commands we may develop for your use, but in a lot of applications, you only really need to detect tag UIDs as well as read and write NDEF messages.

Anti-metal tags

Making your tags work on metal surfaces

If you’ve ever tried to attach an NFC sticker to the back of your iPhone or perhaps put a Bluetooth pairing tag on a metal peripheral, you’ve probably noticed that the tag will no longer scan. Even if the tag isn’t directly on metal, just being close to metal is sometimes enough to cause your scan performance to take a dramatic turn for the worst. In this whitepaper, we will look at why this happens and how you can make your tags work again.

Encoding 101

Find out what tag encoding is and how do you do it

Overview Sometimes also called tag provisioning or tag writing, tag encoding refers to the process of configuring an NFC tag and writing data to it in order to prepare it for use. For advanced tags this can include configuring filesystems and setting authentication keys, but for most uses of NFC tags, this just consists of formatting the tag for NDEF data and writing an initial NDEF message set to it. Note, this whitepaper is focused on the details of tag encoding, if you’re just looking for a tool to encode NFC tags, our free multi-platform TappyUSB ChromeApp might be just what you’re looking for.

Tag 101

Learn the differences between several types of NFC tags

Introduction Here at TapTrack, one of the first decisions we have to make when starting any new project is what type of NFC tag we intend to use. With a lot of different tag technologies on the market many having wildly varying capabilities and capacities, this decision is not as simple as one would hope, and it often has a huge impact on what the resulting project will look like. Unfortunately, the terminology surrounding NFC tags is often very confusing, so we’d like to take a moment to provide a brief overview of the major categories.

TappyUSB with NodeJS

Create a basic command line utility using the TappyUSB and NodeJS

Using the TapTrack Tappy for easy NFC on Node By putting high-level NFC application logic on the reader itself, the TapTrack Tappy family of NFC Readers provides a simple way to add NFC to any project. Now with a Node Serial Port-compatible SDK, you can be off and running toward a neat NFC application in mere minutes. In this tutorial, we’re going to write a basic command-line utility that scans for tags.

NFC Tag Write Protection

Introduction In many applications, it is desirable to protect NFC tags from unauthorized writing, and occasionally from unauthorized reading as well. For instance, if one was using NFC tags to provide a convenient way for customers to learn more about a product, it would be very bad if the tags were overwritten to instead send customers to a phishing site. Therefore, all of the common tag technologies have some sort of anti-tampering provisions.

NDEF Url Record Prefixes

Introduction Today, we regularly spoiled by very cheap, compact memory to the point where 16 gigabytes on a microSD card the size of a postage stamp is not only unremarkable, but has become expected; however, in NFC chips, cost, small die sizes and low power usage are of critical importance. Therefore, there is very little memory on most NFC chips — an NXP MIFARE Ultralight only has 48 bytes of read/write memory.

Deciding: Nfc Reader Chip vs Controller Chip

What's the difference and which should you pick?

Introduction A topic that is beginning to come up more and more these days is the difference between an NFC reader chip and an NFC controller chip. This would be something considered by those who require an NFC reader for a custom application where the off the shelf reader is not feasible for some reason. I decided to write a knowledge base article about this very important distinction. The designer must pay close attention when selecting which one is the best option for the project.

NFC 101

What is NFC? Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range wireless communication standard similar to BLE or Wi-Fi, but works over short range typically 10cm or less. NFC is a radio frequency (RF) signal initiated by an active NFC device such as a smartphone or reader, and another active or passive device such as an NFC tag to transfer data. All NFC tags consist of an antenna coil and a small chip that is bonded to the antenna.