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RFID & NFC Enabling Solutions: A Closer Look

Radio frequency identification technologies (RFID) have continuously called engineers and managers attention for many identification and goods tracking applications. Its contactless operation and the ability to be embedded inside goods during manufacturing, or inside plastic cards, tokens and capsules, have enabled RFID tags to be identified as the natural replacement technology for magnetic stripe cards in mass transportation, contact memory cards in personal identification, and barcodes in goods inventory and airport baggage control.

This long lasting promise has not been fulfilled, but nevertheless RFID devices and tags have become ubiquitous and its application areas are being further extended and complemented with the advent of new technologies and standards like near-field communications (NFC).

Due to NFC’s popularity increase, most mobile phone manufacturers are currently delivering products which incorporate NFC interfaces and OS support APIs for implementing RFID and NFC enabled applications. As an example, the Android OS 4.4 (KitKat) version has included host card emulation for emulating tags working according to ISO14443-4 air interface (HF RFID, proximity cards) for exchanging command-response APDUs as defined by ISO7816-4.

HF RFID and NFC are becoming enabling technologies in the new world of smart metering. Current status information, partial and complete log records, calibration data and parameters, and other internal meter data and information can be made externally accessible by means of the NFC interface. Several manufacturers have already envisioned this type of RFID application and provide solutions that could be grouped in three main approaches or variants: Serial Memory with RFID/NFC Interface, RFID/NFC interface to EEPROM memory interface, and RFID/NFC Transceiver for implementing Card Emulation (CE).

Dynamic RFID/NFC Tags

With almost no previous RFID/NFC knowledge required and just one chip and a few passive components, the serial memory with RFID/NFC interface solution is the easiest to integrate in hardware and the one requiring less lines of firmware code. The analog front-end (AFE), the RFID/NFC protocol and commands execution engines, and the non-volatile memory are packaged together with the MCU interface engine (see Figure 1). The application software developer only needs to concentrate on keeping the non-volatile memory content up to date and processing a minimum set of events from the AFE, like RF detection or read/write indication flags when memory is accessed from the RFID interface. This kind of RFID/NFC enabling solution is also sometimes referred to as Dynamic RFID/NFC Tag.

Figure 1. Dynamic RFID/NFC Tag.

Figure 1. Dynamic RFID/NFC Tag.

Several dynamic RFID/NFC tag options are available from ST Microelectronics (STM), Atmel, and Texas Instruments (TI), some of them provide built-in to support for handling NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) messages and records. STM’s M24LR and M24SR series implement air interfaces according to ISO standards ISO15693 and ISO14443-Type A, respectively, with I2C MCU interface. TI’s RF430CL330H and TMS37157, on the other side, implement air interfaces according to ISO standard ISO14443-Type B and 134.2 kHz LF interface, respectively, with SPI MCU interface. Working in the 125 kHz low frequency (LF) band, the AT24RF08 asset identification EEPROM from Atmel provides 8K bits of EEPROM and an SPI MCU interface.

Dynamic RFID/NFC Tags exhibit a great level of integration simplicity, but it comes at the cost of providing only a rather reduced air interface commands set and very limited security support.

RFID/NFC to EEPROM Memory Interface
Not as easy to integrate as dynamic RFID/NFC tags, but more flexible in terms of memory size, the RFID/NFC to EEPROM memory interface integrates the analog front-end (AFE) with the RFID/NFC protocol, the commands execution and the serial EEPROM memory interface engines (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. RFID/NFC to EEPROM Interface.

Figure 2. RFID/NFC to EEPROM Interface.

Within this category, Atmel provides the AT88RF001 RFID External EEPROM interface IC which implements the air interface according to ISO14443-2 Type B.

Unfortunately, sine no independent MCU interface is provided by this EEPROM interface IC, it is up to the designer to implement some sort of EEPROM SPI port multiplexing in order to gain read/write access to it from the MCU. As another limitation, memory access security is implemented using a simple four-byte password passing command mechanism, with no mutual authentication and clear plain text communication.

RFID/NFC Transceiver for Card Emulation
RFID/NFC transceivers constitute the most flexible NFC enabling solution for smart metering and other applications, but that solution comes at the cost of requiring a deeper RFID/NFC knowledge and a more complex firmware design. There are several different variants sharing a common setup which includes the analog front end, a protocol engine for simplifying some RFID/NFC protocol communication tasks and an MCU interface for exchanging command/response APDUs, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. RFID/NFC Transceiver.

Figure 3. RFID/NFC Transceiver.

Currently several manufacturers provide complete solutions, including reference hardware designs and complete software libraries. TI’s TRF7970A Multi-Protocol Fully Integrated 13.56-MHz RFID/NFC Transceiver IC, NXP’s PN512 NXP NFC transceiver and NXP's PN544 NFC Controller, Sony’s RC-S801/802/926 NFC Dynamic Tag (FeliCa Plug), and Austria MicroSystems’s (ams) AS3953 NFC Interface constitute representative examples within this category. Some of these devices, like the aforementioned from TI and NXP, also provide support for operating in reader mode.

Implementing card emulation is not an easy task, because it imposes many challenges in terms of standards compliance and interoperability. It does however give the designer enough freedom for implementing security mechanisms up to the highest required standards and an almost limitless platform for data, commands, and parameters interchange.

Are you currently working on a NFC enabled device or equipment? Have you found any advantage in using RFID/NFC with respect to other wireless technologies?

83 comments on “RFID & NFC Enabling Solutions: A Closer Look

  1. Netcrawl
    February 8, 2014

    NFC is significantly different from other wireless technologies, its a very short-range high frequency wireless communication technology, it can work up to  a range of approximately 5 cm (20 cm) and consumes more power. Its a evolved form of RFID (an upgrade version of RFID), technically its working principle is based on RFID technology but I think its more similar to Bluetooth because it allows communication between two active devices. It has huge potential, mostly in the field of electronic payment system like the Google Wallet.      

  2. Victor Lorenzo
    February 9, 2014

    @Netcrawl, it is correct, “NFC is significantly different from other wireless technologies “, in fact it uses very different operating principles than those used by Bluetooth, WiFi, ZigBee, etc. NFC works in the near field area and uses magnetic coupling.

    RFID specifications (plus FeLiCa specification) constitute the NFC foundation. Depending on air interface (Type A/Type B/FeLiCa), phisical antenna geometry (area is very important), use or not of ferrite shielding, antenna position with respect to phone's battery and many other aspects, reading distance may vary from as low as 2 cm (in some mobile phones) to as high as 10 cm (in other NFC enabled devices with no other components overlapping with the antenna).

  3. Victor Lorenzo
    February 9, 2014

    @Netcrawl, “its more similar to Bluetooth because it allows communication between two active devices “, not exactly, but conceptually you may have a setup where two devices supporting active NFC modes can establish a communication link, but one will act in “active” mode (will produce an RF field) and the other in “passive” mode.

    Communication is always originated by the device acting in active mode according to ISO-7816/4 APDU specification and implementing ISO, NFC forum and custom defined commands.

  4. Victor Lorenzo
    February 9, 2014

    I agree with in that “It has huge potential, mostly in the field of electronic payment system like the Google Wallet

    In fact, RFID smartcards and NFC (in card emulation mode) are widely spread in Asia as a payment method, specially in public transport. Several pilot and EU funded projects have been run (or are running) in Spain, France, Germany and other EU countries, again mainly centered in public transport applications as fare media for automatic fare collection systems. NFC has served in those cases as enabling technology for integrating other services (like travel planning) to fare collection systems.

  5. samicksha
    February 9, 2014

    NFC still has limited scope, not sure but i guess BlackBerry 10 Application allows users to link their existing prepaid card to the app, allowing payment by tapping the NFC enabled device to a standard contactless terminal.

  6. Victor Lorenzo
    February 9, 2014

    @Samicksha, “NFC still has limited scope ” as you say, and mostly due to what has been called the secure element war . The user owns the phone but he/she does not own the secure element, it is owned by whoever owns its master keys (most of the time the GSM mobile phone operator). Something at least annoying.

    Most (for not saying all) current mobile phone SDKs/APIs available provide support for creating NFC enabled mobile applications. In some cases it is also possible to create card emulation enabled applications. The big problem comes when the mobile phone's secure element enters the scene. Dealing with finantial/payment applications as all transactions must be secured by the secure element and that can only be done (authorized) by the secure element's owner.

  7. Davidled
    February 9, 2014

    Typically,In NFC, data could be stolen from other device and if smartphone is lost and someone is using it, all transaction would be damaged. I wonder how data could be protected in the NFC  being used in EU and Asian.

  8. Victor Lorenzo
    February 9, 2014

    @DaeJ, “Typically,In NFC, data could be stolen from other device

    That is always dependant on implemented system and security architectures.

    It is true that using very inexpensive open hardware and open source devices you can sniff into the air interface and log each and every byte exchanged between the reader (NFC device or RFID reader) and the tag (real tag or NFC device in card emulation mode). The air interface operates according to well known and documented standards so you can even decode the RF signals to [partially] meaningful byte streams. That's also true. Furthermore, you can implement applications with no security at all as it is simply a matter of exchanging everything in plain-text.

    For delicate and sensitive information exchange like in payment transactions several measures are taken:

    – multi-pass mutual authentication between both devices to make sure they both share the same secret (key),

    – agreement on using one temporary channel encryption key, valid only during current session and derived using true random number generators.

    – usage of secure element (SIM/SAM/SD/HSM/etc) for carrying out all security functions. This way secret keys are never stored in the MCU/CPU and never [ever] leave the secure element barrier. Secret keys are unreadable and unrecoverable once generated and stored in the secure element. This operation is done in a physically secured and restricted area as it is the weakest point in the whole system.

    – every secret information exchanged is encripted using strong encryption algorithms.

    There are more actions taken, but the above are part from fundamental ones.

     

  9. Victor Lorenzo
    February 9, 2014

    if smartphone is lost and someone is using it, all transaction would be damaged

    After transactions are completed you only keep some tracking number or signature for the product you purchased, but the rest of the information is disposed.

    Some systems do keep a transactions log, like in Japan with FeLiCa, so the user can later revise what he/she did and for integrity and anti-fraud checks. Part of the log is kept in the card and part is kept in the backoffice.

  10. goafrit2
    February 9, 2014

     It has huge potential, mostly in the field of electronic payment system like the Google Wallet.    

    Do they still have Google Wallet? Google Wallet used to be a credit card storage system on the web which Google maintains. I do not see the connection with NFC which requires a kind of chip within a short range to work. But wait, Apple iBeacon is going to take over all these standards.

  11. Netcrawl
    February 10, 2014

    @Victor you're right there's some limitations, although NFC appears to be the future of payment methods and data transfer, there's some risks involved. Its a kind of problem of how users buy scanners to steal other's credit card information by just getting closer. the problem is if someone starts to carry all their financial information on their smartphone then it will be much easier for a determined attacker to steal that information. Although data exchange takes places when two devices are within few centimeters of each other, this does not completely ensure protection, eavesdropping can still occur.

        

  12. Victor Lorenzo
    February 10, 2014

    @goafrit2, “Google Wallet used to be a credit card storage system on the web which Google maintains

    Yes, it still exists in two flavors: Google Wallet (app for NFC enabled Android and iOS phones) and Google Wallet Card (plastic smartcard), but their scope is limited to US only.

    Thanks for mentioning iBeacon. It is based on BTLE and requires local power source (battery, energy harvesting, etc) for the BTLE transmitting device (beacon). It mainly provides indoor geolocation but some more applications and usage scenarios have already been deviced.

    It is a promising technology in terms of how it could dramatically change clients shopping experience.

     

  13. Netcrawl
    February 10, 2014

    @goafrit2 you're right Apple's iBeacon, it quite impressive I think iBeacon could be a big deal, its open a door for a whole new set of appplications such as location-based notification and indoor mapping. Its makes the IoT a reality and might be a NFC killer. Apple's iBeacon could be the NFC killer because of its range ( 50 meters), and consume small amount of enrergy which makes batteries last longer.   

  14. Netcrawl
    February 10, 2014

    @Victor I agree with you iBeacon, its really a promising technology but we got some limitationsn in BLE when it comes to transferring  data, it only support very low data rates whiuch means that we cant do some audio streaming here. BLE is a good choice for small data packets sent from wearable technology such as smart watches and Google Glass.     

  15. Victor Lorenzo
    February 10, 2014

    @Netcrawl,

    I agree on that “Its a kind of problem of how users buy scanners to steal other's credit card information by just getting closer “. But I see that more like an application/system integration and design problem or flaw. The technology provides all required support for securing transactions up to a very high security standard.

    Up to my knowledge, in the case of credit cards data stealing it is due to the possibility to read sensitive information under very weak security conditions.

  16. Davidled
    February 10, 2014

    There is a good opportunity for both Apple and IBeacon as Apple connects to iBeacon for customer. But I remembered correctly, one time, iBeacon was shut down temporarily last year due to the hacker or some type malfunction.

  17. chirshadblog
    February 11, 2014

    @Daej: If that is the scenario, there are some serious issues too on the other hand. What happens if it shuts down again ? What will happen to Apple ? They too will definitely fail since they too rely on iBeacon

  18. chirshadblog
    February 11, 2014

    @Netcrawl: Yes indeed it opens many opportunities not only for customers but also for vendors too. New technology means new opportunities and that means you do need new infrastructure too. Openings for many to be honest

  19. samicksha
    February 13, 2014

    Here is growth chart expected by IHS technology.

    Apart from above another factor that would work in NFC's favor is adoption by Apple.

  20. chirshadblog
    February 13, 2014

    @samicksha: Adoption of apple hmmm do you think it will be a major factor ? Why do you think apple is the best for this ? Why not Samsung or HTC or even Nokia ?

  21. Victor Lorenzo
    February 13, 2014

    @chirshadblog, Samsung, HTC and Nokia (among others) already provide NFC and BTLE enabled smartphones. Up to what I've read Apple does not provide NFC enabled phones, not yet.

    According to market studies provided by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, by the end of 2013 Android devices continued growing in market share while iOS devices continued falling. But these two OS combined represent more that 90% global market share. Tanking into account Apple's customers fidelity it makes sense that total NFC enabled phones will grow even more if Apple adopts this technology.

    In my oppinion, neither phone provider is best for this, the biggest impact on adoption will probably come in the eventuality that users are allowed to gain control over what is installed or not in their phone's security element.

  22. Netcrawl
    February 13, 2014

    @Vicotr I think Apple has no plan to support NFC, with iBeacon I think Apple will going to dump NFC and focus more on BLE. For Apple its far more powerful and much better, and some best few things- can run up to 2 years with a single battery, which makes phone batteries last longer. iBeacon s are also less expensive compare to NFC, and NFC works only in very close range, mobile phones also need to have NFC chips to handle NFC communication. 

     

  23. Netcrawl
    February 13, 2014

    @chirshadblog adoption of Apple? I think it won't happen iBeacon offer a number of great advantages over NFC -indoor mapping and location-based marketing, Internet of Things could also benefit from this because of low power capabilities of Apple's iBeacon. I think Apple has gone with something much better platform so there's no need for a switch or adoption. NFC is good in the world of wireless payment but iBeacon is a far more bigger, not just electronic payment.

  24. goafrit2
    February 14, 2014

    >> @Victor you're right there's some limitations, although NFC appears to be the future of payment methods and data transfer, there's some risks involved. 

    I think iBeacon which Apple is pushing could change the game. When we read what happened in Target, it is very challenging to have any confidence in these modern payment systems. How fraud happens despite all the advancements in cybersecurity confuses me.

  25. goafrit2
    February 14, 2014

    >> It is a promising technology in terms of how it could dramatically change clients shopping experience.

    What do you think about iBeacon as Apple seems to be pushing this forward with it? If this becomes a key part of iPhone 6, what are the implications wrt competition in the smartphone sector. 

  26. goafrit2
    February 14, 2014

    >>BLE when it comes to transferring  data, it only support very low data rates whiuch means that we cant do some audio streaming here

    But for payment, I think iBeacon will be good enough. The packets you need to move around is such that the technology can support without many problems.

  27. goafrit2
    February 14, 2014

    >> Openings for many to be honest

    I do not understand what you mean by being “honest”. Do you think new technology like NFC or iBeacon will make the bad guys to suddenly change? The fact is this – there are parallel developments in the world. The good and bad are innovating but while one is doing in the open space, the other is hidden.

  28. goafrit2
    February 14, 2014

    >> Apart from above another factor that would work in NFC's favor is adoption by Apple.

    Apple has already chosen iBeaon. I am not sure they have interest in NFC.

  29. fasmicro
    February 14, 2014

    @samicksha, are these shipment numbers correlated with smartphone shipments? I mean are they rising as the number of phones shipped rise. That will help if it is only phones that will drive the adoption and increase.

  30. fasmicro
    February 14, 2014

    @chirshadblog, >>Why do you think apple is the best for this ? >. The main point could be that Apple has the reputation of seeding new technology usage. They may not be the first but when they do things, they open a new sector which helps everyone. It has a fanatical followership which helps any product it adopts

  31. fasmicro
    February 14, 2014

    @Victor >> my oppinion, neither phone provider is best for this, the biggest impact on adoption will probably come in the eventuality that 

    Apple might have had its best days. I do not see how it can take up the whole world and win. Google is there after it from the home hardware side, Samsung is unleashing torrents of waves in its phone business while amalgam of OEMs in China have challenged its model by demonstrating that people can buy decent not-great products at affordable cost.

  32. fasmicro
    February 14, 2014

    iBeacon s are also less expensive compare to NFC, and NFC works only in very close range, mobile phones also need to have NFC chips to handle NFC communication. 

    My friend called this the battle between Flash and alternatives which Steve Jobs rejected the former because of his concerns on usability and battery life. Most Americans will give Apple the benefit of doubt on this over Google & co. This is a hardware space and they have the best credibility in it. NFC will do well internationally but iBeacon will be more adopted in U.S.

  33. fasmicro
    February 14, 2014

    @netcrawl, >>NFC is good in the world of wireless payment but iBeacon is a far more bigger, not just electronic payment.

    You summarized it clearly. iBeacon offered more than payment. It gives GPS location which is good for retailship as they can know when you have entered a store to sell ads to you. NFC lacks those features. From the advertising standpoint, iBeacon offers more. Also, its long range makes it even better. You may not need to be in the store to be marketed, just walking in downtown across CVS store could help them pop the ads on your screen while you are going for a coffee in nearby Starbucks.

  34. samicksha
    February 15, 2014

    Nokia and Blackberry were some early adopters of NFC but this technology hardly helped with sales record, one of the reason being many stores dont even accept this technology as if now. According to WSJ, Apple and eBay's PayPal are working on technology that can detect a smartphone's presence in a store through Bluetooth and send coupons or enable payments wirelessly. That's more flexible than NFC, which works through frequencies transmitted from a phone that is in close proximity to a reading device.

  35. Davidled
    February 15, 2014

    I would like to monitor NFC Chip maker near future to see if there is a plan to keep updating chip to overcome some issues of NFC such as Security and data transfer. But I think that NFC is being used in European region for transportation like subway.

  36. Victor Lorenzo
    February 16, 2014

    >> What do you think about iBeacon as Apple seems to be pushing this forward with it?

    With a growing number of devices supporting BTLE, not only smartphones, in my oppinion there is an incresing interest for applications towards personalized advertising, specially prepared and cutomized information and adds targeted at specific individuals based on current location and [potentially] interests inference based on logged WWW searches.

    Zigbee can also provide geolocation support at low energy cost, but focuses on different applications.

  37. Victor Lorenzo
    February 16, 2014

    @fasmicro,

    >>iBeacon offered more than payment. It gives GPS location which is good for retailship as they can know when you have entered a store to sell ads to you. NFC lacks those features. From the advertising standpoint, iBeacon offers more.

    I think we have two different technologies here in front of us, with different target applications and completely different operation principles. They could aventually overlap on some specific application, but to my knowledge, technically speaking they are not designed to replace one-to-the-other like perhaps in Bluetooh-Zigbee-BTLE.

    NFC (which is Near Field Communications) operates based on magnetic coupling between reader's and tag's antennas (near field) and this makes reading range very short. This characteristic, by design, makes necessary to intentionally place the target device (Tag, CE enabled NFC device) close enough to reader's antenna. This is good for payment and transport ticketting applications, simplifies many things in application design and decisions making. NFC is not targeted at long distance (far field) communications like BTLE, Zigbee, WiFi and will never replace any of them.

    BTLE, on the contrary, is targeted at larger distance communications with a dramatically improved power efficiency. Payment applications can be created with almost any wireless (and wired too, even with RS232) communication standard (with more or less user intervention), it is just a matter of application design and online access to payment services provided by some entities.

    From my point of view, mass transportation ticketing/payment applications benefit greatly from (and bases on) the short reading distance provided by HF RFID/NFC in order to allow entrance only to individuals who have paid. On the other side, personalized advertising and user location assistance are applications which benefit from geo-location enabled devices (GPS | BTLE+iBeacon).

    I think that both technologies can coexist and even complement each other.

  38. Netcrawl
    February 16, 2014

    You're right Nokia was the first one to introduce NFC enabled phones- 6131 NFC phones. not just handset Nokia also led a massive research works that developed the Contactless Communication API, which allows application to access info on conatctless targets such as barcodes.  

    BlueTooth has huge potential, its popular and quickly gained an early foothold in numerous industries, companies are choosing Bluetooth because of its power efficiency, range and ability to connect to connect to smartphone apps.

  39. Netcrawl
    February 16, 2014

    I agree with you @Victor, iBeacon's sensing technology, based on BlueTooth promises to personalize the world around users, its broadcast a signal in a given area. Apple uses the iBeacon technology in its own stores, users walk into store past an iBeacon and receive a notification. Instead of limiting mobile payments to tapping a device Apple has gone deeper and introduced a system that allow a user to be greeted on their own devices as they walk into a retailer store, guided to a stor and even pay without queue, all without tapping anything.

    If we're looking for something that really give a really very smooth experience and much better platform, I think its Apple. Apple has just laid the groundwork for a much better platform, more exciting mobile payment experience.  

  40. samicksha
    February 16, 2014

     I guess lack of standardization shown impact on NFC's efforts. It's not much time passed when we saw Google's latest version of Android, called KitKat, created Host Card Emulation (HCE) to allow any NFC-enabled phone to use the Google Wallet app to make mobile payments, but parallel to same what i see BLE's advantage is that it uses technology that can be found in the earliest versions of smartphones.

  41. Victor Lorenzo
    February 17, 2014

    >> I guess lack of standardization shown impact on NFC's efforts

    Most NFC aspects and operation is covered by readily available standards to warrant interoperation. Only a few aspects seem to be ongoing standardization works by several SIGs, mainly at middleware and application level.

     

    >> KitKat, created Host Card Emulation (HCE) to allow any NFC-enabled phone to use the Google Wallet app

    HCE functionality implemented in Android KitKat version provides application programmers with a simple way to circunvent the big limitation imposed by the secure element's owner. Only the security element's owner is in posession of all required keys to install applications in the security element.

    With HCE an application programmer can create and register services (Android OS services) tied to specific AIDs (Application IDs). This services get called when the phone in working in CE mode and commands associated to this AID are received from the reader. There is a guide describing HCE in the Android developers API guide.

    With this approach the Google Wallet could be emulated by a user mode application.

    –But, carefull with this. Using HCE, as no secure element is used, the android application is responsible for all the security aspects, not only for data encryption/decryption but also for finding a SAFE place for storing the keys.

     

  42. fasmicro
    February 19, 2014

    >>  According to WSJ, Apple and eBay's PayPal are working on technology that can detect a smartphone's presence in a store through Bluetooth and send coupons or enable payments wirelessly.

    Bluetooth has one major challenge – power management. I do not see any technology that depends on it to survive in the long-run. Its power management is archaic for the modern tech users.

  43. fasmicro
    February 19, 2014

    Nordic Semiconductor has a very elegant chip that can do what NFC and BT are promising with less power consumption. They are building a new line of power efficient chips that will help in harvesting medical data via mobile devices at extremely low power budgets.

  44. fasmicro
    February 19, 2014

    >> Zigbee can also provide geolocation support at low energy cost, but focuses on different applications.

    The main challenge in Zigbee is that they cannot make it to be smaller. I do not know why it has to be that big. Other than that, it  is a very cool innovative product. People in the developing world are building new lines of products based on Zigbee. Too bad, these products are not very portable.

  45. goafrit2
    February 19, 2014

    NFC is not targeted at long distance (far field) communications like BTLE,

    I think BTLE is not that long a range not to compete with NFC. If you check carefully, most companies choose either NFC or BTLE. It is very rare to have the two adopted by the same company. That means there is some exclusivity in the way companies see them meaning they do similar things to a level that replication or duplication does not help business.

  46. goafrit2
    February 19, 2014

    On the other side, personalized advertising and user location assistance are applications which benefit from geo-location enabled devices (GPS | BTLE+iBeacon).

    If we agree that most devices have GPS inside them, that geo-location advantage of BTLE over NFC can be neutralized with a geo-location app. Technically, if users agree, there are apps that can provide the same level of geo-locality that we have in BTLE.

  47. goafrit2
    February 19, 2014

    companies are choosing Bluetooth because of its power efficiency, range and ability to connect to connect to smartphone apps.

    I thought that one of the main drawbacks of Bluetooth is its poor power management. That has actually affected its adoption. Apple has been largely cold on the standard because its poor performance is poor.

  48. goafrit2
    February 19, 2014

    pple has just laid the groundwork for a much better platform, more exciting mobile payment experience.  

    From Flash to many technology standards, people vote for Apple, at least during the era of Steve Jobs. I still think we can outsource our capacities to make choices and simply choose what Apple has offered us. iBeacon under Apple will be very successful and anyone that bets against it is making a mistake.

  49. Victor Lorenzo
    February 20, 2014

    @fasmicro,

    >> The main challenge in Zigbee is that they cannot make it to be smaller

    There're ZigBee modules with a reasonably small size (rectangular, 26x15x3 mm, antenna included). TI's WL1835 WiLink combo modules integrate WiFi/Bluetooth/BTLE in similar size.

  50. Victor Lorenzo
    February 20, 2014

    @goafrit2:

    >> If we agree that most devices have GPS inside them, that geo-location advantage of BTLE over NFC can be neutralized with a geo-location app.

    GPS signals are generally not available while indoor. When driving across tall buildings or under severe weather conditions GPS signals are also lost. Even today, for civil applications GPS accuracy is relatively low, 4~5m at most under best reception conditions. Though Some researchers claim they have improved it up to 2m.

    NOKIA claims they have achieved an indoor location accuracy of up to 0.3m using BTLE.

    Most envisioned applications for iBeacon/BTLE require low location resolution errors under non ideal GPS reception conditions.

  51. Netcrawl
    February 20, 2014

    @fasmicro I agree with you about Zigbee, its also good  when it comes to energy comsumption, the only problem with Zigbee is its not frequency hopping technology, it requires careful planning during deployment in order to ensure that there's no interfering signals. Its a good fit for smart meters and home automation.  

  52. Netcrawl
    February 20, 2014

    Range can be an important key factor in this space, especially in the sensor applications. But its not just about range they're looking for here cost is another one, NFC is a huge cost for companies and quite complex to implement. BlueTooth is much cheaper and smarter solutions for companies.   

  53. PCR
    February 21, 2014

    Very true DaeJ it is not a good thing that totally depending on the smart phones sins there is a great possibility of misplacing the device which will leads to lost data. 

  54. PCR
    February 22, 2014

    Netcrawl You are highlighting a great point there, I also believe that limiting the distance between the two devices will reduce the risk to some level. 

  55. PCR
    February 22, 2014

    chirshadblog  yes  but sometimes it is worth investing on the new tech which will add more benefit to the organization in long run, rather than stick in  the old system

  56. goafrit2
    March 3, 2014

    NOKIA claims they have achieved an indoor location accuracy of up to 0.3m using BTLE.

    Possibly Microsoft and not the new Nokia that is looking for telecoms companies to acquire. Yet, is there a need for such level of accuracy indoor. If you know the person is inside that house, is that not good enough?

  57. fasmicro
    March 12, 2014

    >>  Its a good fit for smart meters and home automation.  

    I find the product from Nordic Semiconductor better than Zigbee. The only problem is that that one is more complex to work with but its power budget it far superior.

  58. Netcrawl
    March 13, 2014

    @goafrit2 I believe Nokia has partnership with Qualcomm's Atheros for indoor location mapping. The two have been working on location technologies, primary objective is to deliver a more precise positioning to mobile devices inside buildings ( about 3-5 meters). Qualcomm's broad technology portfolio can be found in almost 1 billion devices on mobile networks worldwide, this also include GNSS.  

  59. goafrit2
    March 22, 2014

    >>Qualcomm's broad technology portfolio can be found in almost 1 billion devices on mobile networks worldwide, this also include GNSS.  

    This explains the very poor business model of ARM. Most of the Qualcomm chips are built on top of ARM technologies, yet, no one gives ARM credit. 

  60. Sachin
    March 31, 2014

    The significance of a 0.3m indoor location accuracy, as has been achieved by Nokia, if their claims are true and verifiable, is a significant step whose applications are very widespread so don't be in a rush to sweep that under the carpet. A good example of how this can be applied is in employee tracking at the workplace with the objective of increasing efficiency.

  61. SunitaT
    March 31, 2014

    Lets not air enough to base all our thoughts on smart phones alone. There is a great possibility of misplacing your device which will lead to lots of data. @DaeJ, might be right and people using NFC enabled devices should take close look at it before rushing. Since there is always a margin for getting better, Nokia should not pat its back by declaring itself as perfectionists in achieving indoor accuracy of 0.3m using BTLE. Besides, in most of the cases GPS signals are not received indoor.

     

  62. SunitaT
    March 31, 2014

    It is hard enough to come up with efficient card emulation solutions and, indeed, many companies have been working hard towards this end with some great results. However, another more pressing problem and one which holds most of these companies back is that of the interoperability of these solutions. There is also the added problem of compliance to industry standards which really limits innovative thinking.

  63. Victor Lorenzo
    April 1, 2014

    @goafrit2 >> This explains the very poor business model of ARM. Most of the Qualcomm chips are built on top of ARM technologies, yet, no one gives ARM credit .

    When I look at the pace at which ARM cores (ARM7/9/11) and Cortex cores (M0/0+/3/4, A5…and so on…) are replacing the vast majority of proprietary CPU cores from (almost) all major manufacturers I wouldn't say they are following a poor business model, at least from my point of view and experience in embedded systems design and programming.

  64. Victor Lorenzo
    April 1, 2014

    @SunitaT0 >> Lets not air enough to base all our thoughts on smart phones alone. There is a great possibility of misplacing your device which will lead to lots of data .

    The possibility to lose data comes from bad security archicture designs. A poor design almost unevitably leads to security flaws.

  65. Victor Lorenzo
    April 1, 2014

    @SunitaT0 >> It is hard enough to come up with efficient card emulation solutions and, indeed, many companies have been working hard towards this end with some great results .

    I agree with you in that it is hard, I wrote the complete software (firmware+tests suite+test scripts) for one ISO14443/A card emulator using one NFC transceiver. It requires not so common programming skills, but it is possible to implement an emulator from scratch with a one/two person 'team' in a relatively short time.

  66. Victor Lorenzo
    April 1, 2014

    @SunitaT0 >> There is also the added problem of compliance to industry standards which really limits innovative thinking .

    Standards provide the required foundation for interoperation. The innovation comes in a form of how we apply and use the technology to come up with a successfull product.

  67. goafrit2
    April 2, 2014

    >> NOKIA claims they have achieved an indoor location accuracy of up to 0.3m using BTLE.

    It is very hard these days to follow what Nokia is doing as I do not even know which ones they own and the ones Microsoft controls

  68. goafrit2
    April 2, 2014

    >> Its a good fit for smart meters and home automation.  

    How can you do smart metering yourself? Does it mean the utilities are now giving consumers the opportunities to play directly with them. Smart metering has a lot of promise but I am not sure the utilities are open to allow total consumer immersion in their networks

  69. goafrit2
    April 2, 2014

    >>  BlueTooth is much cheaper and smarter solutions for companies.   

    The greatest advantage on BT is largely coming from its wide adoption. I do not think it is the best technology in the market. People use it because that is what we have in most of the mobile devices and you cannot go wrong when there are many people in that space.

  70. goafrit2
    April 2, 2014

    >> Very true DaeJ it is not a good thing that totally depending on the smart phones sins there is a great possibility of misplacing the device which will leads to lost data. 

    Could you explain your point very well. I seem not to make sense of the argument. I do not see the uncorrelated relationship between SIM cards and phones when the SIM card is actually what makes the phone a phone. The loss of data is another point as when you lose your phone, data goes with it unless of course you have it saved in a cloud.

  71. goafrit2
    April 2, 2014

    >>  I also believe that limiting the distance between the two devices will reduce the risk to some level. 

    Yest, the best strategy will be to focus on “hardening” that distance and not focusing on the length. Apple I think for growth purposes will need to find new avenues to make money and will have to enter into physical payment ecosystem which will possibly disrupt.

  72. goafrit2
    April 2, 2014

    >> yes  but sometimes it is worth investing on the new tech which will add more benefit to the organization in long run, rather than stick in  the old system

    That is the reason why firms innovate. If you do not do it yourself, another competitor will surely do so. Competitive advantage comes through innovation and not by sticking on what has simply worked in the past. Every firm has a responsibility to innovate in the business field.

  73. fasmicro
    April 2, 2014

     There is a great possibility of misplacing your device which will lead to lots of data. 

    There is a solution for that and it is surprising how we do not take advantage of that. The truth is Dropbox, Box and others could eliminate that problem if people use them. There is a reason why companies demand that all BYOD must pass through the CIOs IT policy before they can connect to the company network.

  74. fasmicro
    April 2, 2014

    There is also the added problem of compliance to industry standards which really limits innovative thinking.

    The solution should be that the players should adopt the platform of the biggest market share. That is how you can build interoperability. Unfortunately, that is not possible as most of those platforms are open up to the point the users can share their data but not for any useful engineering work.

  75. fasmicro
    April 2, 2014

    Standards provide the required foundation for interoperation.

    Great point but sometimes, the people that develop the standards can shape how innovative the ecosystem could be. In other words, standards and how they are structured can practically limit innovation. It makes sense to be smart about the formulation of the standards.

  76. Victor Lorenzo
    April 3, 2014

    @goafrit2 >> It is very hard these days to follow what Nokia is doing as I do not even know which ones they own and the ones Microsoft controls .

    I agree, with too many different information sources out there, sometimes not completely verified, we tend to get lost.

  77. Victor Lorenzo
    April 3, 2014

    @goafrit2 >> The greatest advantage on BT is largely coming from its wide adoption .

    And it comes from the fact that BT interest group has made great effort in creating a specification heavily focused on interoperation and extensibility. Extensibility provides new means for innovation.

  78. Victor Lorenzo
    April 3, 2014

    @goafrit2 >> Yest, the best strategy will be to focus on “hardening” that distance and not focusing on the length .

    I don't fully agree on that. Range reduction could be used for reducing power consumption and possible uncontrolled electromagnetic interference emissions but has less to none impact in security strengthening.

    In RFID/NFC applications the air interface should/must always be considered part of the UNSECURE region. For keeping safe sensitive information it is mandatory to use one secure encrypted channel.

  79. Victor Lorenzo
    April 3, 2014

    @fasmicro >> In other words, standards and how they are structured can practically limit innovation .

    My general background covers only one limited pico-subset of the areas we engineers work on. In my years of experience I have always seen the root cause that limited innovation in the lack of creativity in some engineers, some managers and most sales persons I have met. I clarify this, I refer here to people I have met, I refer ONLY to my personal experience in my previous occupations.

    I have also worked with very creative engineers and technicians trying to innovate in very specific sectors. We took good profit from readily available and under revision standards to ensure interoperability with other existing systems so, in our experience, standards have never been by no means an innovation limiting factor, not at all.

    The automotive sector is covered by hundreds of standards, or even thousands, and they continue innovating and… adding new standards.

    Please, let us know if you have already identified any standard that limits innovation and how, from your point of view, it does.

  80. fasmicro
    April 10, 2014

    Please, let us know if you have already identified any standard that limits innovation and how, from your point of view, it does.

    The IBM PS/2 standard kept the world in stasis for decades in the world of keyboard innovation. If the hackers, the good ones, follow all the standard rules, we will not have some of the better products we have today. The idea is not that standards are bad, the point is that who makes them matter. I have seen one in New Jersey where the state outlawed selling Tesla cars via Internet because it is not within the standard in the state which is selling cars via dealers. There used to be standard that your paper ticket is dollar and if you lose it, you cannot fly a plane. Until somehow, some sensible people said wait, that paper is nothing because the person had paid and we have the list here. That paper is not that valuable.

  81. fasmicro
    April 10, 2014

    And it comes from the fact that BT interest group has made great effort in creating a specification heavily focused on interoperation and extensibility

    I agree with you on this BT. Yet, BT will see real tests in coming years. As Apple and others continue to find their own paths, anyone not making devices should worry.

  82. fasmicro
    May 1, 2014

    I agree, with too many different information sources out there, sometimes not completely verified, we tend to get lost.

    That issue has been resolved. Nokia part that is owned by Microsoft is now Microsoft as the deal has been formalized. I am sure future products will come with Microsoft logo alongside Nokia where allowed.

  83. fasmicro
    May 1, 2014

    And it comes from the fact that BT interest group has made great effort in creating a specification heavily focused on interoperation and extensibility

    I agree no one can take it away from them – BT has done a great job becoming a platform of choice that everyone needs to have it to have market success.

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