We have earlier read reports about Apple planning to build a NFC module into the iPhone, according to a patent, Apple does plan to add it in the iPhone. The applications shown on the patent page are quite interesting. Apple plans to allow users to unlock their PCs using the iPhone and another patent image shows that you can even unlock doors using your iPhone! Now that’s cool!

From Wikipedia:

Near Field Communication or NFC, is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology which enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 centimetre (around 4 inches) distance. The technology is a simple extension of the ISO/IEC 14443 proximity-card standard (contactless card, RFID) that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device.

From patent page:

The device 10 may further include a near field communication (NFC) interface 44. The NFC interface 44 may be located within the enclosure 12, and a mark or symbol on the exterior of the enclosure 12 may identify its location within the enclosure 12. The NFC interface 44 may allow for close range communication at relatively low data rates (424 kb/s), and may comply with standards such as ISO 18092 or ISO 21481. In certain embodiments, the communication may occur within a range of approximately 2 to 4 cm. The close range communication with the NFC interface 44 may take place via magnetic field induction, allowing the NFC interface 44 to communicate with other NFC interfaces or to retrieve information from tags having radio frequency identification (RFID) circuitry. As discussed below, the NFC interface 44 may provide a manner of initiating control of external devices using the device 10.

NFC might be the technology that Apple might use to trigger location based contact icons on your iPhone that I talked about sometime back. Here are some images from the patent filing: