NFC technology enables what we sometimes called “contactless” payments, device pairing, and other functionality. But since the current range of NFC connections is limited to 5mm (or about 0.2 inches), you pretty much have to tap two devices together in order to establish a connection.

That could change in the coming years though. The group responsible for the NFC standard has unveiled a Technology Roadmap for the next 2-5 year and, among other things, the NFC Forum plans to look into ways to increase the range enough to make these sorts of transactions truly contactless.

We’re not talking about vast distances here. The goal is to begin “examining ranges that are four to six times the current operating distance.” If you do the math, that means the maximum distance would still be around 30mm, or just under 1.2 inches.

But that would be enough to let you wave your phone or watch near a payment terminal rather than touching it, bring your phone close to your car door to unlock it, or position your headphones close to your phone or other device to establish a connection rather than tapping them together. And that could speed up those or other sorts of wireless connections.

The NFC Forum is also looking at increasing NFC wireless charging capabilities from 1 watt to 3 watts, which could expand the types of devices that could be charged over an NFC connection.

Other items on the roadmap include Multiple Purpose Tap to allow a single point-to-point connection to initiate multiple actions at once, bringing support for using smartphones as a Point-of-Sale device so businesses and individuals can receive payments as well as send them, and sustainability goals including “enabling NFC to share data on its composition and ways a product can be recycled.”

The NFC Forum will provide more details during a webinar on June 27, 2023.

press release via Android Authority and @nfcforum

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  1. O don’t know what and if Apple are doing different, but our households iPhones all register payments within 3-7cm range, no need to tap.
    Much closer that with contactless payment cards.

  2. Moderately increased convenience, vastly increased potential for abuse, IMO. Seems like a solution for a non-problem, a tech group enhancing for the sake of enhancement – gotta stay relevant!
    Personally, I’d prefer they eliminate wireless, make the contact chip faster/easier. Swiping with contact seems as easy as swiping without contact, and the guy walking beside me on the sidewalk can’t bump up and start interacting with my card through my coat.

    1. This! No word if they wasted a single thought about the security implications.
      3cm isn’t much, but enough to read a card in a crowded subway.

      1. Ideally, this would be something that’s controllable.
        Just go to the Settings on your iOS or Android device, and change “Allow Air NFC” instead to “Touch NFC” or “NFC Off” options. Or even that by default the software is smart enough to keep NFC Off all the time, until you actively pick it up and go to use it.

        So I think the security implications can be limited.

        1. I think people are more concerned because you can’t really control what a credit card with NFC reacts to.
          If cards had a switch or a spot you have to be touching or it won’t respond correctly, this wouldn’t be as much of a concern.