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NFC Forum explores diversified application fields and NFC technology looks to the future

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The NFC Forum (Near Field Communications Association) is actively exploring diverse applications for its short-range wireless technology, well beyond traditional tap-to-pay. The association’s development priorities include wireless charging, multifunctional touch, extended transmission range, modernization of device-to-device applications and expansion of data formats. Additionally, the NFC Forum is investigating how NFC technology can be used in sustainability initiatives, including the launch of the Digital Product Passport (DPP) program in Europe, which aims to create a unique data set for each product.

Over the past 16 months, the NFC Forum has developed a technology roadmap for the development of future NFC solutions and devices and published an educational document to help product managers understand how to design solutions with wireless charging capabilities. Mike McCamon, executive director of the NFC Forum, said the association currently has more than 400 members and has been working to support its 13.56 megahertz contactless technology in compliance with the ISO 14443 standard.

Traditionally, NFC technology has been used primarily for tap-to-pay payments, taking advantage of the security provided by its short reading range of a few centimeters. According to a previous survey conducted in partnership with ABI Research, 85% of consumers already use NFC technology for mobile payments. However, the NFC Forum is looking to expand technology applications beyond just payments.

Extend transmission range

Extending the NFC reading range is still in the research stage. Currently, the NFC Forum has a compliance testing program for testing NFC transmission ranges up to five millimeters. “We’re looking at how, based on existing tag and radio frequency technology, we can extend the range to four to five times the current range,” McCammon explained. Potential use cases for extending transmission range could include a variety of interaction scenarios that require improved performance. Users no longer need to hold their phone or card very close to make a transaction, allowing for faster transactions. Additionally, if the transmission range is greater, device manufacturers can embed the antenna deeper into the device.

Device interaction

The NFC Forum is also exploring opportunities to improve the read-write model so that two mobile devices can conduct business exchanges, such as sales transactions. If vendors start using phones as payment terminals, they can take advantage of the NFC Forum’s device-to-device specification. Such functionality could also include support for the security standard TNEP, allowing two phones to share authentication for sensitive data. “We’re looking at ways to enhance our device interaction model beyond the card reader/writer model to be able to provide some of these benefits,” McCammon said.The NFC Forum is also working to enhance its technology to support sustainability initiatives. One important direction is the use of NFC technology to manage Digital Product Passport (DPP) information. The DPP scheme has been launched in Europe and aims to create a unique data set for each product, including information such as the product’s recyclability and material composition. With the implementation of the DPP plan, every product sold in Europe in the future will have to store a digital product passport in the cloud to describe the sustainability and repairability of the device. The NFC Forum sees an opportunity to incorporate NFC technology into this ecosystem, making it part of the data carrier. Because the NFC chip has built-in memory, users can write information directly into the product, which means DPP can be stored on tags that are disconnected from the network. This approach can provide a lower carbon footprint compared to QR codes because the data can be stored statically on the device and the data in the cloud can be verified. In addition, the data can be compared with information in the cloud to enable anti-fraud capabilities. NFC technology can also address another challenge, which is the potential for data to be lost if a manufacturer goes bankrupt and shuts down its website. Using NFC tags, data can be embedded directly on the device.

The NFC Forum hopes that the technology roadmap developed in collaboration with liaison and special interest groups will help NFC technology meet market needs. McCammon said: “Our main goal is to continue to make NFC technology attractive in new application areas and improve the overall user experience. I expect this will provide product designers and product managers with new opportunities for innovation and create interesting new products.”

The NFC Forum is also working to enhance its technology to support sustainability initiatives. One important direction is the use of NFC technology to manage Digital Product Passport (DPP) information. The DPP scheme has been launched in Europe and aims to create a unique data set for each product, including information such as the product’s recyclability and material composition. With the implementation of the DPP plan, every product sold in Europe in the future will have to store a digital product passport in the cloud to describe the sustainability and repairability of the device. The NFC Forum sees an opportunity to incorporate NFC technology into this ecosystem, making it part of the data carrier. Because the NFC chip has built-in memory, users can write information directly into the product, which means DPP can be stored on tags that are disconnected from the network. This approach can provide a lower carbon footprint compared to QR codes because the data can be stored statically on the device and the data in the cloud can be verified. In addition, the data can be compared with information in the cloud to enable anti-fraud capabilities. NFC technology can also address another challenge, which is the potential for data to be lost if a manufacturer goes bankrupt and shuts down its website. Using NFC tags, data can be embedded directly on the device.

The NFC Forum hopes that the technology roadmap developed in collaboration with liaison and special interest groups will help NFC technology meet market needs. McCammon said: “Our main goal is to continue to make NFC technology attractive in new application areas and improve the overall user experience. I expect this will provide product designers and product managers with new opportunities for innovation and create interesting new products.”

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