Bluetooth and NFC Find Common Ground in the Air

Carl Weinschenk

A good number of wireless technologies have been created for short distance use. I posted about one of these, 802.11ad, previously. Two of the others, Bluetooth and near field communications (NFC), appear to be forming a nice bond.

Computerworld reports that the NFC Forum and the Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) have signed a memorandum of understanding on a “formal liaison relationship.” In simpler terms, the groups will work together when it is to their mutual benefit. It seems that the overlap–which actually began last year with the creation of the “Bluetooth Secure Simple Pairing Using NFC”–could be extensive:

The groups have agreed to update and maintain that document to recognize emerging technology in Bluetooth 4.0 with its low energy specification. Both groups may also sponsor joint interoperability testing events that incorporate NFC technology testing with Bluetooth technology.


A lot is happening in the Bluetooth World. The Inquirer posted a piece this week exploring what is new via a conversation with Steve Hegenderfer, the new head of Development Programs for the Bluetooth SIG. It’s a long piece, but the bottom line is that the newest version of the technology, known as Bluetooth 4.0, Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth Smart, has far more capabilities and flexibility than earlier iterations of the protocol.

It seems like a technology that is very useful to retailers and entities that traffic in real time information. Sheryl Kingstone, a director at the Yankee Group, elaborated in a FierceWireless post on the advantages of Bluetooth Smart. In addition to using less power, she writes, the technology offers discovery features to determine a user’s location and the ability to generate useful data on interactions. It also offers flexibility on how users receive information.

NFC is thriving as well. This week, Strategy Analytics, in broader research on the future of tablets, suggested that the protocol has some good days coming:

Another innovation which will catch on is NFC (Near-Field Communications), which lets devices connect to each other by touching them together. A third of tablets will be NFC-enabled by 2017, according to Strategy Analytics forecasts.

It makes perfect sense for NFC and Bluetooth to team up. NFC, after all, is employed only when the senders and receivers are extraordinarily close to each other, while Bluetooth has a range of about 30 feet, according to the Computerworld piece. It also seems that the two are on the upswing–and shrewd cooperation may boost each even further.



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