From NFC Readers in Apple Stores to a Bunch of NFC Patents – Will NFC be Apple’s Next Big Move?
(RFIDWorld.ca) There have been a lot of rumours ahead of Apple’s giant announcement on September 9th. Many of these rumours include talk of NFC (near field communications) technology, which Apple has avoided using in its past iPhone devices. NFC is a multi-billion dollar industry and is estimated to reach $16B by 2022, mostly driven by the rising buzz around mobile commerce.
Rumours are mostly focused on Apple using NFC technology in its iPhone 6 so it can be used as a payment device (the Apple iWallet?), replacing your traditional wallet. However, CNBC recently spoke to industry experts and some experts think that NFC in the iPhone 6 is just the tip of the iceberg. J.P.Growden, VP and senior analyst at Forrester said “NFC in the iPhone could transform the device into a remote control for your home. It could unlock doors and interact with other devices like appliances, consumer electronics and wearables.”
To make things more interesting, Apple has built a intellectual property portfolio consisting of 23 patents related to ‘mobile payments’ and ‘NFC technology’ in the last 5 years. Here are some examples of patent’s Apple has generated related to NFC:
- In 2009 – ‘Touch Screen RFID Tag Reader’ patent application was published by Apple describing how an RFID (radio frequency identification) antenna could be placed in the touch sensor panel of an iPhone so that the touch sensor panel could then function as an RFID transponder
- In 2010 – NFC-enabled iPod, games controller, TV and iPhone patent application outlined a vision of a connected living room, where resources are shared with a tap
- In 2014 – Apple applied for a patent on an antenna design that allows NFC signals to be transmitted from both the top and bottom of a mobile phone (front & back) reducing the need for a user to orientate their device in a particular way when conducting an NFC transaction
Another reason to believe the rumours around NFC and the iPhone 6 is an article 9to5Mac recently published, where they stated “Apple and longtime partner Disney this week are bolstering their stores with upgraded versions of iBeacon sensors and NFC readers, according to sources”. It seems like Apple has finally began to understand the power of NFC technology and is ready to embrace it.
If iPhone 6 does use NFC technology the way many analysts are projecting, then this could push the entire consumer NFC market to the next level.