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Multimedia triumvirate promote NFC technology

Posted: 23 Mar 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:nokia? royal philips electronics? sony? near-field radio communication? near field communication?

Nokia Corp. has joined with Royal Philips Electronics and Sony Corp. to promote near-field radio communication technology developed by Philips. In another boost for the technology, the endorsement has also prompted formation of the NFC (Near Field Communication) Forum.

The addition of the world's largest mobile handset vendor as a founding member of the NFC Forum will make it possible for consumers, for instance, to download data or pay for digital services through an NFC interface by moving an NFC-equipped phone close to a TV or set-top box.

"This makes the conversion [of data and services] between mobile and fixed consumer electronics devices possible," said Sour Chhor, general manager of identification, infrastructure and services at Philips Semiconductors.

Nokia, Philips and Sony announced the deal Thursday (March 18, 2004) at the CeBIT show in Hannover, Germany. Noting the formal creation of the nonprofit organization will be final in the next two weeks, Chhor said the founders are already in talks with "a long list of companies," including various handset vendors, consumer electronics manufacturers, PC vendors, service/content companies, and chip vendors.

Philips' NFC partners include Visa International and Vivendi Universal - announced earlier this year - are also expected to join the Forum.

Potential NFC applications include:

  • Displaying a picture, originally received as an MMS message on a mobile handset, onto a big-screen TV, when a handset is close to the TV.
  • Wireless transfer of information and downloaded services between consumer devices, handsets and PCs.
  • Purchasing digital rights to download certain programs via a contactless credit card or a mobile handset featuring an NFC chip.
  • All potential applications can be done simply by having two NFC-enabled devices in close together, or flashing an NFC-capable mobile phone to NFC-embedded devices or objects.

    Efforts to integrate a smart-card reader inside a PC or keyboard have failed. Building a specific slot inside consumer devices to insert a smart card has also been a big barrier for smart-card proliferation. NFC - because it's based on a contactless near-field communication technology - is expected to allow for the addition of a contactless smart-card reader into various consumer devices, including mobile handsets. That would solve the persistent problem of a lagging infrastructure for smart-card readers.

    Besides promoting the use of NFC as a new standard, the Forum will focus on "ensuring interoperability between devices and services," Chhor said.

    The group is also planning to develop a certification program.

    NFC technology evolved from a combination of contactless identification (RFID) and interconnection technologies. NFC operates in the 13.56MHz frequency range over a distance of a few centimeters. The technology, which has been widely adopted as a standard, is also compatible with the broadly established contactless smart-card infrastructure based on Philips and Sony card technologies.

    While NFC protocols are well defined, more work is needed to ensure interoperability, said Chhor. One example is how to ensure that a TV can recognize MMS pictures taken with different handsets, expand and display them. "We will need to work on a broad range of middleware," Chhor said.

    - Junko Yoshida

    EE Times

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