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Technologies

Bluetooth

Cellular 4G

  Applications


 
 
Near Field Communication (NFC)
 
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Near Field Communications Webpage

Overview
Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range wireless connectivity technology that evolved from a combination of existing contactless identification and interconnection technologies. Products with built-in NFC will dramatically simplify the way consumer devices interact with one another, helping people speed connections, receive and share information, and even make fast and secure payments.

Operating at 13.56 MHz and transferring data at up to 424 kbits/second, NFC provides intuitive, simple, and safe communication between electronic devices. NFC is both a “read” and “write” technology. Communication between two NFC-compatible devices occurs when they are brought within four centimeters of one another: a simple wave or touch can establish an NFC connection which is then compatible with other wireless technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

The underlying layers of NFC technology follow ISO, ECMA, and ETSI standards. Because the transmission range is so short, NFC-enabled transactions are secure. Also, physical proximity of the device to the reader gives users the reassurance of being in control of the process.

NFC can be used with a variety of devices, from mobile phones that enable payment or transfer information to digital cameras that send their photos to a TV set with just a touch. The possibilities are endless, and NFC is sure to take the complexities out of today’s increasingly sophisticated consumer devices and make them simpler to use.  As NFC-compliant devices are brought close together they detect the other device and begin to determine how they can interact in terms of transferring data.

 

Essential specifications of Near Field Communication

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NFC has been standardized in ISO 18092:  
    * Works by magnetic field induction. It operates within the globally available and unlicensed RF band of 13.56 MHz.
    * Working distance: 0-20 centimeters
    * Speed: 106 kbit/s, 212 kbit/s or 424 kbit/s
    * Passive Communication Mode: The Initiator device provides a carrier field and the target device answers by modulating existing field. In this mode, the Target device may draw its operating power from the Initiator-provided electromagnetic field.
    * Active Communication Mode: Both Initiator and Target device communicate by generating their own field. In this mode, both devices typically need to have a power supply.
    * NFC can be used to configure and initiate other wireless network connections such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Ultra-wideband

Sources:
http://www.nfc-forum.org
http://www.iso.ch

Strong Points
Above all, this technology makes transactions more convenient for consumers.  Consumers do not want to wait in lines for tickets, to gain entry, or to make quick payments.  This technology allows the transaction times to be reduced and allows for fewer interactions between a customer and a salesperson.  Communication barriers are eased and transactions can take place at any time in any location where the user has a signal and is able to make a purchase.  The consumer is in complete control of where they make their purchase, just as with a credit card, and must point their device at and be within 10 centimeters to complete the transaction.

NFC-enabled cell phones storing credit card, bank information, or other links to money can be cancelled with one call to the service provider instead of having to call every credit card issuer and bank when a wallet is stolen.  This reduces the amount of time a thief has access to stolen money.  The consumer would have to repurchase a cell phone, but can then continue to interact with their accounts over their device.

As the NFC-enabled devices are being developed it appears that consumers have the option to configure their devices to either automatically or manually connect to nearby devices.  By setting their device to a manual connection, the device cannot be pinged or accessed without the user agreeing to the connection.

Sources:
http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/2451/1/1/
http://searchmobilecomputing.techtarget.com/originalContent/0,289142,sid40_gci1084330,00.html

 

Weak Points
Although the close distance required for communication to take place with NFC devices, a weakness is the same specification.  Communication must occur when the sender and receiver are close together.

Consumers have to be very careful with the companies they allow to have their personal information, including credit card and other personal information.  With this information stored locally on a NFC-enabled device, if it is always on, there is great potential that local data can be stolen.  Unlike with a credit card, the consumer may not know their data security was compromised as the device will be physically untouched.  These connections are possible as one of the settings is to allow automatic connections to other NFC devices. 

When considering the possibilities of this technology, there are rouge uses as well.  Just as with e-mail phishing, NFC phishing can occur.  A thief could paste their NFC source on top of a kiosk or turnstile and collect payments and personal information instead of the intended company.

Source:
http://searchmobilecomputing.techtarget.com/originalContent/0,289142,sid40_gci1084330,00.html

 

Users
Near Field Communications are being used in areas of business transactions as varied as tickets to sporting events and keys to hotel rooms. NFC allows businesses to transit codes and keys to NFC enabled devices, not limited to just cell phones, and the user is able to gain access to goods and services.

For example, bringing a NFC-enabled camera close to a TV fitted with the same technology could initiate a transfer of images, while a PDA and a computer will know how to synchronize address books or a mobile phone and a MP3 player will be able to initiate the transfer of music files. Using NFC, consumers can quickly establish wireless links between devices. It provides a more natural method for connecting and interacting with devices, broadening the scope of networking applications.
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In an event ticketing situation, mobile phone users could pay for concert or movie tickets at the box office simply by holding their phone next to the payment terminal. The contactless chip in the phone transfers payment data to the terminal and, once payment is confirmed, sends the tickets back to the phone. The phone user can then transfer a ticket using NFC to a friend's mobile phone. Payment is made by a new person-to-person payment concept being developed by Visa. Once at the venue, both ticket holders can use their phones to gain access and may also receive an electronic discount coupon for an on-site merchant.

Travelers with a NFC enabled device can book and pay for airline tickets and hotel rooms using their home PC, an NFC enabled mouse and a contactless payment card. The tickets and airline information are transferred from the PC to the credit card using NFC and stored on the card's chip using a smart secure storage medium also being developed by Visa. The card is then used for airline check-in, to board the flight and to check-in at the hotel. The hotel room key can be transferred to the traveler's mobile phone using NFC and the phone can then be used to access the room. On departure, the hotel can transfer a receipt to the phone and, once at home, the traveler can transfer the receipt from the phone to a PC for expense reporting.
http://www.nxp.com/news/content/file_1027.html
http://www.sandisk.com/Corporate/PressRoom/PressReleases/PressRelease.aspx?ID=3422
http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2006/08/25/218037/football-fans-to-pay-by-phone.htm

 

Manufacturers

Sony

Visa

Philips

Renesa

HP

Motorola

MasterCard

American Express

Microsoft

Qualcomm

NEC

Texas Instruments

Nokia

AT&T

NXP

Intel

Panasonic

SanDisk

Samsung

RIM

 

Future of the Technology

Currently 14 mobile network companies are developing NFC applications including AT&T, Vodafone, and China Mobile.  Some AT&T Wireless cardholders in New York City will be testing a new service that allows them to make purchases with their cell phones.

AT&T Wireless is teaming with cell phone maker Nokia and financial institutions Citigroup and MasterCard Worldwide to trial new phones that have MasterCard PayPass contactless payment capability.  The trial, which is expected to last three to six months, will help the companies evaluate the speed and convenience of the "tap and go" payments using mobile phones.

A group of Citi MasterCard cardholders with AT&T Wireless accounts have already been selected to participate in the trial. The participants will receive a Nokia handset with NFC technology and the MasterCard PayPass payment function built in. Using the phone, trial participants will be able to make purchases wherever MasterCard's PayPass is accepted by simply holding their phone near the card reader. The payment is then deducted from the cell phone subscriber's account.

MasterCard PayPass service is already being tested in New York City subway stations using plastic cards issued by Citibank. The cards can also be used at 1,000 Coca-Cola vending machines in Philadelphia. Other merchants such as McDonald's and AMC movie theaters also accept the card, and in turn will accept the PayPass phones.

Contactless payment cards distributed through banks have been gaining popularity over the past several months. As of September 2006, more than 30,000 U.S. merchant locations had hardware in place to read and authorize contactless payments. And more than 13 million consumers already have the payment devices, according to research and consulting firm Celent.

The next logical step is for the PayPass technology to be included in mobile phones, since mobile phones are commonplace among a large percentage of adults in the United States.

Consumers in South Korea and Japan have already been using cell phones to pay for things.  Today most of the phones are used for small transactions that are often paid for using cash. But in the future, supporters of the technology expect it to be used more like a credit card. The scanners could also be programmed to download coupons or advertisements from merchants directly onto handsets.

Motorola also announced earlier this year that it is building handsets equipped with a specific chip to pay bills. The M-Wallet service will initially allow cell phone users to do banking chores and to pay bills at participating retailers.

Source: http://news.com.com/2100-1039_3-6143975.html?part=rss&tag=2547-1_3-0-5&subj=news

12Touch, a company in Norway has created what is being billed as the first wireless keyboard without the need for a battery.  With an NFC-enabled cell phone in the middle of the keyboard, it can communicate with PDAs, cell phones, and computers via radio signals. 
http://www.12touch.no/
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