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Is it possible for a cell phone to communicate with an RFID chip?

I'm looking for a low-powered solution to turn a device on/off wirelessly, using a cell phone.

Example: phone sends signal to RFID chip, circuit board switches on.

It really looks like Bluetooth will take too much battery, as this will be a portable device.

Any suggestions ?

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RFID is typically Tag sending a message, usually just an ID number, to a Device, which reads it. You want the other way around, which is not how RFID is used. NFC can be used for two way transmission (Like touching the back of two NFC phones to pass data), but it's also mainly used as an ID system, Tag to Device.

You can have a NFC device act as a tag, which your circuit would then scan for. For this you need a NFC reader as well as your microcontroller.

Bluetooth, and Bluetooth LE are the way to go.

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No, not 'out of the box'. Some phones have a NFC (near-field communication) capability, which could be used if your device is NFC enabled. Note that although similar, NFC and RFID are not compatible.

To use NFC, you'd have to write an app for your phone to interface with your device. Because of this, and because there are no IOS/iDevices with NFC capability, you're limited to Android. For iPhone, the only option would be a commercial RFID add-on hardware and accompanying software.

What kind of 'interface' are you looking for? If you are looking for something that activates by close proximity, Bluetooth might not be suitable.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. It's looking like Bluetooth low energy is going to be my most efficient and universal solution. I did some digging online and the RFID tags can communicate with devices, but their functionality is severely limited. \$\endgroup\$ – user3226576 Apr 28 '14 at 0:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ The problem again is that Apple restricts what you can do. You can't just pair any bluetooth device with an iPhone and get it to work. Basically, if you want to go 100% DIY, you're stuck with Android - and even there you might need a jailbreak to get access to low-level API for NFC (and maybe Bluetooth - not sure, I'm not an Android developer). \$\endgroup\$ – RJR Apr 28 '14 at 0:53

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