A new generation of NFC-equipped smart phones is set to revolutionize the way we interact with products. Carol Houghton reports
A leading mobile phone manufacturer is scheduled to introduce its first third generation smart phone by mid-2012 integrating NFC technology from Inside Secure, manufacturer of semiconductor technology for secure transactions and digital identity. The phone will run on one of the most widely used mobile operating systems under license, and utilize the Inside MicroRead NFC controller chip and Inside Open NFC protocol stack software to deliver NFC capabilities to a broad range of applications.
The Inside NFC implementation will open up a wide range of interactive possibilities, including use of a mobile phone to pay when shopping or on public transport, and to access information or call a taxi by tapping smart tags in posters. ‘NFC will be a revolution,’ says Loic Hamon, vice president NFC products. ‘It is a virtual world in your handset, making that link to the real world easier.’
Data security will clearly be an issue, given the amount of sensitive information – like bank details – stored on the chip, but Hamon says very high security levels have been built into the software.
A new generation
NFC is positioned as a ‘third generation’ interface, following the original mobile phone and then the iPhone. ‘This third generation focuses on the connection of the virtual world of the phone to the world around you and easy, instant access to information’ says Hamon.
Where QR codes require user action – downloading software, acquiring the image and following links – the NFC chip is constantly looking for tags to interact with. ‘NFC is always on so it will revolutionize the way we interact with the world,’ reinforces Hamon.
These are still early days for the technology, which unlike QR codes require a complex infrastructure of phone, reader, tag etc. ‘However,’ says Hamon, ‘the penetration of NFC is now significant and in a couple of years the user experience will change dramatically.’
Charles Walton, general manager and executive vice president at Inside Secure, reports that the company has already shipped 20 million units of its NFC software for use in a broad range of mobile devices since February 2011, with half of those shipments taking place in the past five months.
Pictured: NFC fare collection on a tram
This article was published in L&L issue 2, 2012