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Latest NFC (Near Field Communications) News
Time Added to the Hourglass: XPERIA Ion uses NFC to Save Consumers Time
Let’s chat it up about the Sony Xperia Ion, the LTE version of the Xperia S, available on the AT&T 4G network. Earlier this year in January, following CES we did a piece on Sony’s NFC speakers for Xperia NFC smartphones, which you can find here. With 4G compatibility, the phone can be used on GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+ where LTE is not available on AT&T. The device is part of the new generation of NXT series (next generation) smartphones and displays a 4.6-inch 720p HD Bravia Engine screen. A 12MP camera that goes from having the device off to snapping a picture in 1.5 seconds by holding down on the dual-stage camera shutter button and 1.5 GHZ dual core processor with Android Gingerbread this quarter to upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich during the second quarter. In holding the device, we notice the Sony Ericsson’s signature human curvature back (metal, not plastic like the XPERIA S) that allows users to grip the XPERIA Ion comfortably in their hands.
Narian compares NFC to Barcodes with infographic
The NFC and Barcode battle still looms on, and Narian Technologies has been determined to settle the dispute once and for all with an insightful infographic. QR codes are finally being accepted everywhere with marketers barely putting out a piece of printed collateral without the aforementioned QR code winging its way along for the ride. However, NFC tags have many advantages that QR codes simply can’t attain. Narian builds a strong case for NFC in its infographic that points out the many advantages that NFC holds over barcodes of any description, but that doesn’t mean that barcodes are dead yet. Obviously we favor NFC tags, NFC devices and the ecosystem that is building around the technology. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t play devil’s advocate a little and point out some of the advantages that barcodes have over NFC. So, we will endeavor to give a balanced approach as we go through Narian Technologies’ infographic.
NFC Forum members show of NFC solutions in Frankfurt
The NFC Forum and some of its members are showing off some NFC solutions over in Frankfurt, Germany this next week. But why? At the end of the day, NFC is just another secure little protocol that has the added ability to work with tags just like its older brother, RFID. It is pretty cool in and of itself, but really nothing to get overly excited about. Strange that coming from us? Not really. We have never been enchanted by the actual technology as it is nothing new or remarkable outside of the fact that a radio frequency can power a small chip and antenna with nothing more than a radio field. NFC operates at 13.56 MHz. Data speeds range from 106 kbit/s to 848 kbit/s. NFC Tags only store small amounts of information, currently between 96 and 512 bytes of memory. Kind of a dry subject matter, eh? It isn’t that NFC isn’t an interesting technology, but it is hardly as bleeding edge as quantum computers and hadron colliders.
Cortus and SST show off low power SOC with NFC secure element uses
Cortus and SST are showing off a new low power system on chip (SOC) at Embedded World 2012 that could change the industrial design of NFC in smartphones. We don’t need to tell you that everyone wants smaller smartphones with less power consumption. In an era of convergent capabilities and a focus on keeping everything small, competitive OEMs are forced to constantly improve the power consumption and the size solutions take up on a board.
Sound Pound NFC to replace traditional high five greetings?
The creators of Sound Pound describe their NFC Android app as a replacement for the high five or fist pound. The concept is that you either record a sound or select a file from your NFC smartphone and then assign a contact. When the two devices are unlocked and brought within NFC proximity, both devices will simultaneously play the selected sound.
SITA Lab and Orange get together to trial NFC at airport models
SITA Lab and Orange have recently got together to look further into the use cases for NFC for passengers, airlines and the security at airports. The thought of giving an NFC ticket at the airport is not a new concept. However, apart from a couple of airlines trialling NFC with stickers and apps, we are yet to see anything truly ubiquitous and usable for users across the globe. The SITA and Orange research project developed NFC apps for smartphones that allow NFC boarding passes, security check-ins, lounge check-ins and checked them out with real technology to show how NFC holds the possibility to streamline airport processes, improve security and generally make travel less frustrating for flyers. This is in part because IATA and the GSMA have developed industry use cases for NFC that cover check-in, security access, boarding and lounge access. NFC boarding pass information can be loaded securely to the travel wallet from online, over the air or at a kiosk.
Fukumi opens bricks and mortar NFC tag store with UPM RFID in Tokyo
The Fukumi Corporation has opened the world’s first physical bricks and mortar NFC store in Tokyo. It was bound to happen and it probably isn’t too surprising that it happened in Tokyo, and that UPM RFID were involved. We all know that the humble NFC tag has a huge future ahead of it, embedded in products and for home users to write to and create some fancy actions that simply make life a little easier. However, where to get your NFC tag has thus far involved a search online with a one way information source. So, if you want to know what NFC tag is best for your project you have had no one to ask. With that said, there are Android apps like TapThatTag that help you refine your choices and choose the best NFC tag.
Freescale and Inside bring some NFC magic to utility meters in reference design
Freescale Semiconductor and INSIDE Secure has announced a secure prepaid electricity / utility meter reference design with NFC baked straight in. The new product is aimed at OEMs so they can quickly and cost effectively deploy NFC utility meters to market. Using NFC in utility meters is a very obvious use case and a vast market to be tackled. Every home has at least one utility meter and most have more than that. The new design is based on the Freescale Kinetis MK30 microcontroller (MCU), which provides the first NFC-based prepaid meter with the ability to securely reload energy credit balances. INSIDE Secure provides the VaultIC 460 and NFC (MicroRead 3.4) chipset. Gone are the days in the UK are sotting 50 pence pieces into old electricity meters. A new solution could be for NFC payments to top up electricity when required.
Nintendo Wii U controller to rock NFC to enhance gaming
NFC got another boost today as Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, announced that the Wii U controller would feature NFC “function”. The Wii U controller is set to be compatible with both FeliCa for its home audience and MIFARE for the rest of the world. The President of Nintendo even acknowledged that NFC “is expected to be widely used around the world in the near future.”
BlackBerry 3G Playbook with NFC leaks out with 2012 roadmap
BlackBerry has had its 2012 roadmap leak this week and among an assortment of NFC smartphones there was a BlackBerry Playbook that rocked on HSPA+ 3G, and is likely to feature NFC if the leaked presentation slides are to be believed. We reported just the other day that BlackBerry had supported NFC in a big way which, since Nokia has said goodbye to NFC at the moment, means the Canadian firm is sitting in pole position for supporting the technology throughout their devices. That support appears to now extend to the firm’s Playbook tablet. The first Playbook came sans 3G data connectivity and was billed as the iPad killer. But without a few fundamentals, like unified mail, the Playbook struggled against the iPad and lately the Android-based devices.
All Access: NFC Altering the Access Control Landscape
Let’s all be honest for a few seconds. I think we all can admit in this social driven economy that we are far more likely to misplace our keys than our mobile devices these days. I know sad, right? Wouldn’t it be such a convenience if our mobile devices could act as keys, giving us access? Imagine a mobile electronic key for access control. Our mobile phones already offer more tools and resources than making calls, receiving calls and texting. Today we use them as cameras, calendar, portable mini computers and even video game consoles. So, when you put things in perspective, loading virtual keys onto your mobile device could be as easy as…well, ringing a doorbell. Of course, thanks to NFC this perspective is very much a reality and is altering the access control landscape as we speak!
Galaxy Note has NFC onboard AT&T locks it, Ma’Bell’s Galaxy Note Fails
Just a couple of weeks ago at CES, Samsung told NFC Rumors that the Galaxy Note did not have NFC capabilities. We took a spin around the Android OS and at the software level at least, this appeared to be confirmed. However, Samsung has now done its own tear down on the LTE device and what do we see? Yep, NFC is there. The IC can be clearly seen and the back cover sports an NFC antenna. This means Samsung was either not telling the full truth at CES or their show staff had no idea what was going on. Samsung Tomorrow reports that the specs of the torn down device exactly match the version heading to AT&T. So what gives?
Sequent launches CCS and brings NFC capabilities to apps
The Sequent Software management team have formerly held positions within large corporate entities such as AT&T, Visa and VivoTech and been responsible for deployment of various NFC trials and technology. However, the firm has now released an NFC SDK, for lack of a better word, so that all app developers can add NFC to any apps. That CCS (Core Card Services) product includes the capabilities to add NFC payments, NFC ticketing, coupons and access control.
NFC to speed up currency exchange due to added security according to Currencies Direct
Currency Exchange can be expensive and take a lot of time, but the question being asked is whether NFC mobile wallets will speed up that process. Currencies Direct, a UK based non-bank currency exchange firm, think it will and they don’t mind saying why. We here at NFC Rumors have focused on a somewhat related part of the NFC payments ecosystem called remittance payments. This is where migrant workers or even just friends can send money from one another via their NFC smartphones by using a mobile wallet. These remote payments are expected to grow to a staggering $22.5 billion dollars by 2014, and no doubt Currencies Direct aims to be part of that lucrative new ecosystem. The process is near instantaneous and has been being used with SMS technology for years in Africa with the M-Pesa service.
MasterCard Commonwealth Bank and Hoyts partner for ordering and paying for snacks in Australian cinemas using NFC
MasterCard, Commonwealth Bank, and Hoyts cinemas have partnered to bring a new facility for cinema goers that allows an app, NFC tag or QR code to be used to order and pay for food or snacks in Sydney theaters. Australia has embraced NFC and smartphones quickly and, in fact, Google stats show that smartphone penetration in Oz outpaces everywhere else globally. It’s a pretty natural progression of NFC payments to see niche apps that allow you to purchase items and browse menus in different environments. Whether that be on a plane, at a theme park or even at a cinema (Americans, read movies).
TazTag shows off the TazPad and NFC smart monitors at CES
It was last year at CES that a startup French firm called TazTag first showed of its TazPad NFC tablet concept. It wasn’t the firm’s first foray into NFC and, in fact, they were known in Europe for kiosks that supported NFC interactions and transactions. Since then, the TazPad production NFC tablet, with a helpful sprinkling of ZigBee, has been deployed to integrators and the orders just keep coming in according to executives at the firm. Of course, the fact that NFC can be read on both side of the device, its AuthenTec fingerprint scanner and its low price didn’t hurt its chances any. The fact that the TazPad was the first NFC tablet to hit the market globally also gave it a certain fame and a lot of coverage, including here on NFC Rumors.
Duly Note[d]: Something the Galaxy Note failed to “note”
The rumors were answered at CES about the new Samsung Galaxy Note LTE for AT&T. The smartphone-meets-tablet device, or “superphone”, definitely created something to talk about. The two-in-one is available in carbon blue and ceramic white with AT&T. The highly talked about 5.3-inch HD Super AMOLED touchscreen display crushes its competitors (HTC Titan and Nexus S) in size and appearance. The touch of 4G LTE is an added bonus especially for the U.S. market.
BlackBerry NFC tag issues appear to be a thing of the past
NFC tag issues have plagued the beleaguered BlackBerry NFC smartphones for some months now. You have probably heard the news that the Co-CEO’s over at RIM have stepped down from the firm today. Something that is ironical with that announcement is that BlackBerry issues with NFC appear to be a thing of the past and people are doing some great things with NFC tags these days, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Over at CES a couple of weeks ago we got to speak with one of BlackBerry’s NFC product managers who told us that he didn’t know of any problems reading NFC tags these days since the BlackBerry OS 7.1 update. He invited us to send over all manner of NFC tags and said that the firm would test them out in their labs. We may well hit up some of our friends at some NFC tag manufacturers and put that to the test as there are so many NFC tag types these days and it would be great if RIM tested them all in their labs.
OpenWays launches NFC hotel key without SWP carrier costs with a little help from Nokia and NXP which can be added to existing hotel locks
OpenWays isn’t the first time we have seen an NFC hotel key system. If you remember VingCard, an ASSA ABLOY company launched a pilot in Stockholm last year. However, the emerging mobile network operator joint ventures and associated costs to firms that want to provision secure data over networks to secure elements has become costly at best. In essence, launching an NFC based company that needs to access a secure element has had costs added that prove too expensive for many firms to turn a profit.
Mobile World Congress NFC rumors leaking left, right and center
Mobile World Congress is coming up this next month, and rumors are rife over here at NFC Rumors about all kinds of announcements that are likely to be made. We have been so busy with our CES coverage that we have just been stacking them up, but we know you love some good rumors from industry insiders, so we thought we would let some fly. As usual our NFC rumors come from individuals on the inside of the industry. Yep, those in the know. They tell us what they can, but often have to leave out some details so they don’t identify themselves with specific knowledge that only a few know. So, think what will you of the rumors, and let’s just see which ones come to pass.
Yale demos NFC door locks solutions at CES for Android, iOS and BB
We have reported on Yale and their NFC door locks before. However, we have now seen the locks in action and have far more details about how Yale (an ASSA ABLOY company) plans to bring their solutions to market. The Yale NFC door locks are an exciting prospect because they represent quality products for access control that are built for consumers. Yes, later this year we will be able to cost effectively buy NFC door locks for our homes, offices, and anywhere else we would like to secure and use access control facilities.
NFC Bootcamp free pre-event to feature Cellotape how NFC works tour
NFC Bootcamp have arguably done more to educate folks on how to use NFC than any other group. That’s not to say there aren’t many other great teams educating people about how to add NFC features to products or start new businesses. However, NFC Bootcamp tours the US putting on organized training sessions that take developers and marketers from step one to the implementation and marketing of their NFC app, device or service. They are also platform agnostic, which allows for a 360 degree understanding of the industry, challenges and opportunities that are available. In short, NFC Bootcamp is a valuable resource for folks looking to build something meaningful in the nascent NFC market.
Narian shows off NFC retail experience solutions at NRF show
Yes, the NRF show has just finished up and Narian Technologies was on the floor showing off its full suite of non-payment NFC services that help retailers maximize profits cost effectively. If you are an NFC enthusiast and haven’t heard of Narian Technologies we only have one thing to say to you – Have you been living under a rock for the last year or so? Narian is far older than a year old though, and led by industry expert, Einar Rosenberg. When Narian isn’t helping the top names in NFC develop new products, services or simply giving consulting services, the firm is hard at work developing and deploying its own full suite of retail services that use NFC to prevent lost sales and maximize profit in retail situations.