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NFC: A smart solution that boosts the usage of electronic technology in our daily life, Part 1.

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology offers many interesting options in the application of smart ICs realized through electronics technology. This kind of solution can be effectively utilized by people in many common life situations (see Figure 1):

“For those who don’t know it, GymKit is the Apple platform through which Apple Watch users can train with typical gym machinery, saving settings and milestones in their account. This is possible by associating your iWatch directly with treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes and steppers.” (Source: NFC APP)

Figure 1

Apple extends GymKit's NFC functionality to gym equipment (Source: NFC APP)

 

Apple extends GymKit’s NFC functionality to gym equipment (Source: NFC APP)

 

One of the big players in electronics, STMicroelectronics Company, is massively betting on the usage of NFC in a wide scenario of applications; furthermore, the basics of the NFC solution are developed in a series of online technical courses:

>[“Our NFC teams released a series of massive open online courses (MOOC) that will teach engineers and enthusiasts how to design for readers and tags. NFC brought great innovations to products that had no electronics until now, as a wine company that’s putting our Type-5 NFC tag on its bottles can testify. And since ST was among the first to pass the Tag Certification Program and offer Type-5 devices, engineers know that the course relies on fast and feature-rich devices that will greatly complement their project. Just ask TapNLink, a company that connects to a microcontroller through NFC and that got rave reviews thanks to its solution’s incredible speed. Furthermore, as NFC continues to gain more grounds in many other markets, such as the automotive industry, as we recently explored in a Q&A, understanding how to leverage near-field communication is absolutely crucial.” (Source: ST Blog)

The true story of the wine company adopting NFC payments is very interesting as it shows the promising potential of the NFC solution (see Figure 2):

“In the board room of a medium-size wine company, the jovial executive committee celebrates the publication of their annual sales report, but the mood of their presidents is more cautious than they let it show. The numbers are good, but margins are shrinking, the competition is ever more aggressive, counterfeits are becoming a problem, and their consumers are having a harder time differentiating their products from the myriad of other wines flooding the market. The teams are proud of the bottles they are putting out, customer satisfaction is high, but the executive is painfully aware of the necessity to rise above the noise to increase its market penetration, and more smartly advertise the quality of their product. At their next meeting, the CTO explains that NFC (Near Field Communication) is just starting to penetrate luxury products and that a tiny number of distillers are experimenting with it. The executive committee, therefore, tasks their brand and product managers to look into NFC to see if and how it can improve their operations as well as reach a younger demographic while also benefiting their existing clients.” (Source: ST Blog)

Figure 2

The NFC solution can be applied for safe and quick electronics payments, but there is much more: 'The managers rapidly understand that NFC is the technology that helps them pay with their smartphones, but that it is also present in many more products, from clothing and cosmetics to the cars of today and tomorrow (See this article). Very simply, consumer products integrate a tag that contains information, such as a link to a website or a serial number, among others, and shops or end users can use their phones or other machines as a reader to extract the tag's data thanks to a phenomenon called inductive coupling. When a small electrical current passes through the reader's loop antenna, it generates a magnetic field that can flow onto the tag's antenna, as long as it is close enough. This field induces an electrical current within the tag, thus powering it to enable it to send information to the reader (See this article)

 

The NFC solution can be applied for safe and quick electronics payments, but there is much more: “The managers rapidly understand that NFC is the technology that helps them pay with their smartphones, but that it is also present in many more products, from clothing and cosmetics to the cars of today and tomorrow (See this article). Very simply, consumer products integrate a tag that contains information, such as a link to a website or a serial number, among others, and shops or end users can use their phones or other machines as a reader to extract the tag’s data thanks to a phenomenon called inductive coupling. When a small electrical current passes through the reader’s loop antenna, it generates a magnetic field that can flow onto the tag’s antenna, as long as it is close enough. This field induces an electrical current within the tag, thus powering it to enable it to send information to the reader (See this article)

 

What are your thoughts and experiences with the NFC solution? The possible applications of NFC electronic tags is unbounded. Can you think of some and share with our readers?

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