Best NFC Tags for Proof of Presence?
Best NFC tags for Android, best NFC Tags for iPhone: Our customers use thousands upon thousands of NFC tags for all kinds of purposes. There is a huge number of NFC tags available, which would we recommend as the best NFC tags for proof of presence?
NFC (near field communication) is a low power communication technology derived from RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). It’s a set of wireless protocols that allow the exchange of information between two chips.
If you use your phone to make payments in a shop then you probably already use NFC (contactless payments).
What is an NFC tag?
An NFC tag is simply a passive chip encased in a hardened surround. The size of the chip inside the tag can vary, as too can its memory. Its memory can be anything from 48 bytes to 1 megabyte and range in size from 10mm to 1,000mm.
NFC tag applications
Applications for NFC tags are numerous. For example, at bus stops they will lead you to a web page with the latest bus times. However, the most popular use case for NFC tags is proof of presence.
Proof of Presence
How do you know a cleaner has visited your second home or a security patrol has been performed? If you are not willing to take their word for it then you probably want proof of presence.
One simple and easy way to evidence someone has been somewhere at a certain time is to ask them to use their phone to read an NFC tag. Once the tag is read the phone will use an app (like ours) to communicate proof of presence to whomever is interested.
Why Trust NFC Tags?
Literally hundreds of millions of tags are scanned to deliver proof of presence. This method is trusted because:
- Fooling people about a tags location is not easy. The tag is usually firmly affixed to a location (by adhesive or screw) meaning serious effort needs to be expended to move the tag.
- A phone is usually unique to one person; increasingly they are treated as though they are extensions of ourselves. This makes it unlikely someone will lend out their phone to others to scan a tag.
- The time the tag was scanned is derived from the phone’s network time (and therefore it is not easy to trick).
Best NFC Tag for Android/iPhone criteria
Below is a checklist you should run through before you buy NFC tags.
What kind of environment will you expose the tag to? There are some toughened tags that can handle +60 and -30 degrees celsius, withstand weather storms and washing machines. There are some tags that look great but can only handle air-conditioned offices.
Tags will lose their adhesion if affixed to surfaces that expand and contract, therefore avoid placing them on wood.
How much information do you want to store on the tag? Some tags have as little as 48 bytes of storage. For tags used as proof of presence this isn’t likely to be an issue. Usually these tags contain a nondescript identifier, for example ‘XV75Y’. This script means nothing to you or me but the app that reads the code holds all the useful information and will associate it with a location.
Do you want a tag that is noticeable or discreet? The former may be easy to see but inappropriate in a beautiful office building.
How to buy NFC Tags
You can buy your tags direct from a supplier or through a third party, such as SIRV. If you buy direct make sure you order the tags with the following in place:
An NFC tag is ‘naked’ until it has a code. You can code a tag through any smartphone but if you’re ordering lots of tags it’s quicker to ask the supplier to code the tags. The tag code is the unique identifier for each tag that cross references to the location of the tag. For example ‘XYZ101’ = ‘Front Entrance’.
If you order more than one tag of the same type you will discover they all look identical. This means unless each tag has a label the only way you will know where to place the tag is by reading the tag code (see above) using a smartphone. It’s far easier to have the supplier add an external label on each tag so you can easily identify where it belongs.
Closed or open
Once a tag is coded you may have the option of leaving it ‘closed’ or ‘open’. If it’s open then the tag code can be overwritten by you at a later date, useful if you want to re purpose the tag. However, an open tag gives someone other than you the opportunity to maliciously overwrite your tag. Closed tags cannot be overwritten.
If the tag is placed on or near metal surfaces then there’s a risk communication is distorted and the tag can’t be read. Therefore, anti-mental tags are built to cope with metal surfaces.
Some suppliers give the option of branding your tag and adding a message. If you select this option avoid adding messages such as ‘do not touch’, as this only encourages people to touch the tag. You will also need to be patient as most tags will be off the shelf and only need minimal processing before being shipped. On the other hand, branded tags take longer to produce.
Our best NFC Tag recommendation
We source all our tags from www.zipnfc.com. We’ve bought countless tags, here are our two recommended best NFC tags:
Best NFC Tag: Internal Use
The Internal tag is ideal for indoors because it’s slim, small (30mm diameter) and comes in different colours. We tend to order this tag in white. The greatest threat to this tag is not someone peeling it from its location (which does happen) but decorators painting over it.
Best NFC Tag: External Use
This is one tough tag. It has a hole in its centre which allows it to be screwed to surfaces but it’s often affixed to locations using super strong glue. These tags last for years and years. Want more help? Get in touch.
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