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ST strengthens NFC offerings, offers Android compatibility

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:semiconductor? electronics applications? NFC? wireless?

STMicroelectronics NV (ST) has announced their efforts to strengthen its near-field communication (NFC) offerings by allowing users to perform tasks like read, write and transfer data from their dual-interface memory to a number of consumer and industrial applications.

ST's M24LR64 wireless memory has the unique ability to transmit and receive information from the heart of an application to a smartphone containing NFC technology or to an industrial radio-frequency identification (RFID) reader, allowing for transactions, data exchange, object identification and tracking to occur rapidly. NFC is a short-range technology operating at 13.56MHz that is being implemented on smartphones to enable customers to make payments, such as for public transit and in convenience stores, using their mobile devices. The technology also permits communication between NFC-enabled devices. Partnerships already announced between major U.S. wireless carriers and credit card companies will drive NFC technology into 30.5 percent of all handsets shipped in 2015, according to market-research firm IHS iSuppli.

A new app called Dual EE, which operates on the Android operating system, delivers full compatibility with ST's M24LR64 wireless memory. The app connects an NFC-enabled smartphone to a prototype temperature recorder featuring ST's unique M24LR64 wireless memory and demonstrates data transfer and storage. These capabilities are easily transferable to a broad range of products, including medical devices, home appliances, consumer electronic products and meters. Adoption of NFC technology and ST's innovative memory will cut the cord and grant users more freedom in saving and exchanging information wherever they want.

"The combination of this new Android app and our innovative dual-interface wireless EEPROM memory will allow users to communicate with a wide range of electronic devices via their NFC-enabled smartphones," said Benoit Rodrigues, general manager of ST's memories division.

Together, the dual-interface EEPROM and Android app provide a launch pad for consumer-tech innovations offering users new types of benefits via NFC. The memory can also operate with RFID equipment used in the supply chain. The Dual EE app can be downloaded free of charge from the Android Market, and has already been validated on leading smartphones. The source code of this sample application is available on the ST website giving developers a head start to designing their own Android NFC applications that are able to communicate with dual-interface EEPROM products.

NFC technology
NFC is a short-range wireless standard for communication over distances up to around 10cm that is supported natively in the Android operating system (from issue 2.3.3), and will enable enhanced services for users of NFC-enabled smartphones. These could include receiving coupons from retailers upon entering a store, or sharing contacts or photos, in addition to making mobile payments and collecting data from medical monitors, smart meters or other equipment containing ST's dual-interface EEPROM. ST offers a portfolio of solutions for NFC applications, including the ST21NFCA NFC controller and secure elements based on ST's ST33 secure MCU.

ST's Dual-Interface EEPROM
ST's M24LR64 is a dual-interface EEPROM that can be connected directly to a wireless antenna as used in an RFID tag to transfer data through the energy in radio waves between the RFID or NFC reader and an electric tag attached to an object, allowing the equipment to be read or updated without being switched on. The company claimed that it is the only product of its type in the market able to communicate with RFID and ISO15693-capable NFC readers, as well as the system's own processor. This dual interface simplifies the design of products that provide new features for NFC users, and that can also be managed easily in the supply chain using RFID. ST's dual-interface EEPROM products also feature a 32bit password data protection scheme, enabling control of wireless read-and-write memory access.

RFID is increasingly being used within supply chains and is especially useful in managing inventory, as it drastically reduces the amount of time used in the past to count items. Electronic products containing an ST wireless EEPROM such as the M24LR64 can be identified individually, activated on safe delivery, and updated with regional settings or new firmware at the point of sale. Since the tags can be read from inside the devices, all this can be carried out without opening packaging or breaking manufacturers' seals. These capabilities enhance security, control, flexibility and convenience for OEMs and retailers.

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