What is NFC? Everything you need to know

NFC is now a household feature - but what can you do with it?

The potential for NFC stretches further than commerce.

Passive NFC 'tags' are being built into posters and informational kiosks to transmit additional information similar to how scanning a QR code can trigger launching a web address, offering a discount coupon, or a map to download on your smartphone.

Google Cardboard
There's an NFC tag hiding in Google Cardboard

A clever use of an NFC tag can be found integrated into Google's do-it-yourself VR kits, Cardboard. Mounting your NFC-capable smartphone into the headset triggers the nearby tag to automatically download or launch the app.

Strangely enough, even video games and action figures are even seeing an injection of the wireless technology. Nintendo's Amiibo, Skylanders and Disney Infinity are collectible toys at heart, but under the hood, the NFC tech offers new functionality not previously seen in video games.

Waving these figurines over gaming consoles or accessories enables players to "check-in" to the game brings them to life, so to speak, which activates some unique features.

Amiibo
Nintendo's NFC-powered Amiibo bring new functionality to figurines

In Skylanders, these figurines can be linked up to the game to enrich the experience with these new characters to play with. Disney Infinity and Amiibo toys yield similar rewards to players and collectors. The NFC chips inside are capable enough to store user data such as experience points, progression and customized settings.

Another practical use of NFC is with Bluetooth speakers and headphones. Many devices brandish the NFC logo, which means that by holding your smartphone to the NFC-enabled device, you'll be able to connect via Bluetooth much faster than pairing devices manually.