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Bluetooth & NFC - Two Wireless Technologies, Many Different Uses

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Although they may seem alike in many ways, the only noteworthy similarity between Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication) tech­nologies is that they are both wireless in nature. Aside from that, each technology is best suited for spe­cific applications that leverage their inherent strengths. For instance, Bluetooth is perfect for lengthy interac­tions where two or more devices are connected for a long period of time.

By contrast, NFC is a fit when only short connections are required. The key to truly understanding the difference between these two technologies and how they can be helpful in a variety of ways is to take a look at their potential uses and determine whether or not a cer­tain feature is beneficial to you.

Bluetooth & NFC

Bluetooth & NFC

Bluetooth uses

Bluetooth has been around longer than NFC and has under­gone many changes over the years. Initially its primary use was to pair a mobile phone with a wireless headset, and that usage has grown to include the pairing of computers and even game consoles. Business travelers are familiar with Bluetooth because it is used for the aforementioned wireless headsets ­as well as for hands-free calling in certain situations. And as the technology continues to evolve, more and more uses emerge.

Bluetooth is also showing up on different types of consumer devices. Some digital cameras have Bluetooth built-in so you can instantly send a ­photo to a smartphone or to your computer without having to plug in a cable. And some televisions, Blu-ray players, and other devices allow you to use your phone as a remote control. As we mentioned, Bluetooth is a better fit for long-standing connections and with each new generation, the technology is becoming much more reliable and suitable for a variety of new applications.

Bluetooth has been around longer than NFC and has under¬gone many changes over the years.

Bluetooth has been around longer than NFC and has under­gone many changes over the years.

NFC uses

Whereas Bluetooth is more commonly used for long-term connections, NFC is more often used for fast data transfers and other quick share situations. NFC enables you to either touch two NFC capable devices together or bring them into close proximity with each other to share photos, videos, and other files almost instantly.

Whereas Bluetooth is more commonly used for long-term connections, NFC is more often used for fast data transfers and other quick share situations.

Whereas Bluetooth is more commonly used for long-term connections, NFC is more often used for fast data transfers and other quick share situations.

But the technology goes way beyond sharing multimedia and could revolutionize the way people use their phones in everyday situations.

You may have seen advertisements for applications where you can use your phone to pay for items at gas stations, department stores, and other locations. These types of instant payments use NFC tech­nology to turn your smartphone or other device into a mobile wallet. You can, for instance, store credit card information on your smart­phone and swipe your phone past a terminal to pay for products or services. Additionally, with many of these applications, you can keep receipts and other information stored on your smartphone or tablet or send them via email, which can be a perfect solution for frequent business travelers as well as anyone who interested in going paperless.

NFC can also be used as an iden­tification tool, similar to the key­card you might use to gain entry to a secure room or building. But perhaps one the most intriguing uses of NFC for companies could be interacting with customers at trade shows or other events via NFC enabled devices.

Imagine being able to have po­tential customers swipe their phone next to a terminal and choose to instantly share their con­tact information, helping you build a stronger database. You could also use such terminals to share adver­tisements, product facts, coupon codes, and other information that could help drive sales of your products in stores.

NFC remains a relatively new technology and many companies are still sorting out how to apply it to traditional business practices. But as you can see, NFC holds sig­nificant potential and is already showing how it can make sales sit­uations essentially stress free for the customer.

Using them together

In some situations, NFC tech­nology can actually improve Bluetooth functionality. For instance, some companies use NFC connections to help set up Bluetooth connections quickly. Instead of searching for a Bluetooth connection or holding down a button for a long period of time, you can initiate an NFC connection with little effort and pair devices almost instantly.

It isn't clear whether or not NFC will eventually replace Bluetooth altogether, but for now each tech­nology clearly has its own ben­efits for users to take advantage of. For long-term device pairing, Bluetooth is the way to go. For in­stant data transfers, NFC is easy and convenient. And because newer smartphones are starting to come with these technologies built-in, companies and consumers won't have to choose between them, but instead be able to take advantage of every benefit that both Bluetooth and NFC have to offer.

NFC-based payments on the rise

According to a report from the Pew Re­search Center and Elon University, 65% of the 1,021 “technol­ogy stakeholders and critics” surveyed agree that mobile wallet us­age will become “com­monplace by 2020.”

We are already at the point where debit cards, credit cards, and other forms of payment are used much more often than cash, but this report says that in less than eight years, NFC-based mobile payments may even outpace those alterna­tives or replace them altogether.

There are still a few hurdles to overcome with NFC related to potential security issues and the reluc­tance of some users to go fully digital. But if you, as a consumer or as a business execu­tive, aren’t looking into the many possibilities of NFC, it might be time to start research­ing it because it ap­pears that NFC is here to stay.

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