RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is the wireless technology used most often for inventory tracking and supply chain applications. Passive RFID tags on products and boxes contain logistics information that can only be read with a special handheld reader at a range of up to 100 meters. RFID typically only supports one-way communication.
Bluetooth is a wireless standard that was designed specifically to replace data cables. Most non-industrial Bluetooth devices support two-way communication within a range of about 10 meters. Bluetooth is built into most mobile phones and many consumer electronics devices. With Bluetooth, you can do things like stream music from your mobile phone through your car’s audio system or use a wireless mouse with your computer. Pairing devices like these with Bluetooth alone can sometimes be a little tricky.
NFC (Near Field Communication) is a wireless standard that performs functions similar to RFID and Bluetooth — and much more. But there are several key differences.
Like RFID, NFC can read special tags; but unlike RFID, NFC tags can be used for virtually unlimited applications and all it takes to read them is a regular NFC-enabled device.
Like Bluetooth, NFC supports two-way communication between devices and is built into over 1 billion devices, including smartphones and a growing number of tablets, PCs, gaming consoles, consumer electronics devices, and household appliances. However, for greater security and control, NFC works within a close range of a couple of inches.
In addition, NFC offers something Bluetooth does not: card emulation mode. It lets your NFC-enabled handheld device act like a contactless smart card to make mobile payments at retail outlets with just a tap.