What is NFC & How Can You Use Smartphones in Your Lab

What is NFC & How Can You Use Smartphones in Your Lab

Research & Diagnostics, RFID in Diagnostics, RFID 101 | 14 October 2019

Posted by Josh Miller

Utilization of the smartphone for streamlined processes through RFID


Quite often, when we discuss implementing a High Frequency RFID strategy with our customers, they don’t realize they already have an important component in their back pocket—their smartphone!

For a while now, smartphones have been enabled with the ability to interact with certain high frequency tags using NFC. Today we’ll discuss what exactly NFC is, and how you can use it in the lab.

What is NFC?

NFC stands for near field communication, and refers to a protocol within high frequency (HF) RFID contactless communication technology that runs at a standard base frequency of 13.56 MHz.

Refresh your frequency knowledge and check  out our blog on LF, HF and UHF RFID >

This technology is intended for close range information exchanges, so image swaps, message deliveries and even transactions can occur with a simple tap. Tags can be inserted into a variety of materials allowing many objects to communicate with NFC devices. NFC devices can be NFC enabled RFID scanners, credit card readers or even smartphones.

Utilizing your smartphone’s NFC capabilities within your facility can be a smart move since your employees will already have the tools they need to interact with RFID tags at their fingertips.

There are a few apps we recommend to our customers who are looking into using smartphones alongside their NFC strategy and those are NFC Tools and NFC TagInfo. Here are a few things those apps can help you do:

Read

As a protocol within RFID, NFC involves the same components and basic functions. Tags hold information and those tags can be read by NFC enabled devices like your smartphone.

This can be helpful in laboratory environments. For example, let’s say your lab has implemented an RFID plan to include additional verification information that won’t fit in a traditional barcode. This information can be accessed by approved technicians easily on their smartphone.

Write

In addition to reading information, smartphones can be used to write information to tags. Depending on your purposes this can be helpful in a number of ways, but most notably it allows users to make updates to the stored information.

With the ability to write to tags from a smartphone, information on samples can be easily updated. So, static information can be stored in the barcode and the tag right away and patient specific or time sensitive information can be added as it becomes available.

Get Organized

Certain apps and customized software will allow the information you collect from your tags to be recorded and organized automatically in your computer systems as it is scanned by your smartphone.

A strategy like this combines the power of NFC with The Cloud to automate tasks that previously might’ve been very tedious.

If you’re interested in something like this it’s best to discuss a plan of action with your integration partner to ensure an easy transition. In many cases it’s a good idea to work with customized software and build an organization system that’s similar to your current one to ease the transition.

If you’re thinking about implementing a high frequency RFID plan think about whether or not your team would benefit from utilizing smartphones to read and write to tags. Also, ask your integration partner if your practice aligns with an implementation plan that allows your team to leverage their smartphones in the lab.

If you have any questions about NFC or using smart phones in the lab, leave them in the comments below! Or, if you have any questions about how Computype can help you implement a high frequency RFID strategy in your lab, please give us a call!

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Josh Miller

Josh Miller is Computype’s Director of Healthcare Solutions. With many years in both project management and engineering, he is able to provide expertise and valuable insight throughout our company and to our customers. Josh oversees the healthcare group and drives innovation to ensure we’re offering the best solutions.