FOUR MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BLE ACTIVE BEACONS AND NFC TAGS

Robert KellermanDigital Location Verification

BLE active beacons and NFC are both commonly used in indoor asset and mobile workforce management. The two techniques share various similarities as discussed in our previous BLE active beacon and NFC tag articles.

BLE active beacons are tags that use Bluetooth technology to transmit signals that are actually unique ID numbers. These signals allow for real-time tracking and can be identified when within range from an asset or field worker carrying an observer device.

Near Field Communication (NFC), in short, can exchange information with just a “tap”. This wireless technology requires less than 20cm to function. NFC tags can be embedded within assets and each tag carries an unique ID. An NFC reader (for example a smartphone) transmits a near field signal that reads the NFC tag’s unique ID. NFC and BLE technology can be perceived as being similar because both operate wirelessly and can be used for indoor/outdoor tracking or digital verification.

Here is a table with some key differentiators comparing BLE active beacons and NFC tags as techniques of digital verification followed by a short summary of each difference.

Criteria NFC BLE Active Beacon
Range 0-20 cm Up to 90 meters
Power source Tag doesn’t need power source; terminal just needs to be powered Beacon battery can last from 2-4 years
Price Low cost Higher cost but still very affordable
Ease of connection Devices compatible with NFC can read signals without prior connection Prior pairing between bluetooth devices required

Range
Both BLE Beacons and NFC tags are optimal for indoor digital location verification. Unlike GPS point and Geofencing, both these technologies require short range to operate. Each requires a reader device such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop which is compatible with bluetooth or NFC. BLE active beacons have a range of up to 90 meters depending on conditions. Whereas with NFC the optimal range is 4cm but can stretch to 20cm.

Power source
BLE beacons are powered by batteries which can last from 2 to 4 years because of their low energy consumption. In comparison, NFC tags do not require a power source, instead the terminal that reads the signal has to be powered. In most cases these are mobile devices such as hand readers, smartphones, tablets and laptops that run on rechargeable batteries.

Price
Comparing the price of the technologies is highly dependent on the supplier of the technologies as well as the quantity of assets / workers that the company wants to track. Although BLE active beacons are considered affordable, generally passive NFC tags are lower cost.

Ease of connection
BLE and NFC technologies are both dependent on receiver devices that can read their signals. BLE requires that both the transmitting and receiving devices be paired prior to tracking. Whereas, NFC requires no prior connection, only a NFC compatible device.

We hope this article was insightful. If you are considering adapting a Digital Location Verification system, but you are unsure what technology will be best suited for your business, talk to one of our competent consultations with no obligations. If you want to see more similar content please subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on LinkedIn.