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New NFC Forum Technical Specifications Broaden Tag Support & Enhance Interoperability

The NFC Forum

The NFC Forum

The NFC Forum today announced the publication of one new and three candidate technical specifications, following approval by the Board of Directors. Available from the NFC Forum website, the specifications deliver new capabilities that support improved RF communication, new and legacy tag support, NFC-V technology and Active Communication Mode.

These specifications are being released as Near Field Communication adoption and implementation continue to increase. According to Strategy Analytics, there are currently over one billion NFC-enabled devices now in the global marketplace, with two billion expected to be in the market by the end of 2016.

New specification:

  • NFC Forum Type 5 Tag Operation Technical Specification defines how an NFC device can interact with an NFC Forum Type 5 Tag, that is, an ISO/IEC 15693 tag that is configured to be able to store an NDEF message. As with other NFC Forum Tag operation specifications, the specification defines how to interact with, not build, a tag. The new Tag Type 5 operation specification is focused on supporting poll-side, short distance communication with ISO/IEC 15693 tags containing an NDEF message. This allows ISO/IEC 15693 tags to be used like other existing NFC Forum tag types. For example, ISO/IEC 15693 tags could be used in smart posters, enabling a user to call a taxi or open a website when the user holds an NFC device near the embedded tag.
  • The NFC Forum has added support for NFC-V to expand the market and use cases for NFC applications communicating with ISO/IEC 15693 tags that are already deployed in the market. This opens the door to new technical implementations of NFC Forum Type 5 Tags that take advantage of additional RF technology. Typical existing ISO/IEC 15693 tag applications include product and asset tracking, pharmaceutical supply chain authentication, library management, and event ticketing. Unlike other RF implementations based on ISO/IEC 15693, however, the NFC Forum’s implementation of NFC-V technology is not designed for long range communication. This is because the NFC Forum’s support for NFC-V operates only in high-speed communication mode and 100% modulation index, which reduces the reading distance. It is also because NFC devices are built to operate only within a distance of a few centimeters, thereby delivering a consistent user experience.

Candidate specifications:

  • NFC Analog Candidate Technical Specification Version 2.0 is focused on the analog characteristics of the RF interface of an NFC-enabled device. It characterizes and specifies the externally observable radio signals for an NFC device, without specifying the design of its antenna, giving manufacturers greater flexibility to use NFC chips from different suppliers without putting device interoperability at risk. Version 2.0 of the specification adds NFC-V technology and Active Communication Mode. Active Communication Mode is an alternative to the Passive Communication Mode defined in previous NFC Forum specifications. This mode is compatible with the Active Communication Mode of ISO/IEC 18092 and therefore enhances interoperability with other NFC devices that use this communication mode. In Active Communication Mode, each peer device in turn generates a field when sending information to the other end of the link, thereby balancing power consumption between the devices and enhancing link stability.
  • NFC Activity Candidate Technical Specification Version 2.0 defines the building blocks (Activities) to set up the RF protocol for different roles inside an NFC device. Version 2.0 of the Activity candidate specification has been extended to support Active Communication Mode, NFC-V technology, and Type 5 Tag operation.
  • NFC Digital Protocol Candidate Technical Specification Version 2.0 defines the digital part of the RF protocol used by NFC devices. It is a half-duplex protocol allowing an NFC device to act as a Reader/Writer, an emulated Card, or a P2P device. The specification supports different RF technologies and protocols for compatibility with existing RF infrastructures. Version 2.0 of the Digital Protocol candidate specification adds Active Communication Mode for Peer-to-Peer operations, NFC-V technology, and Type 5 Tag Platform.

“These new and candidate specifications extend the reach of NFC communications, and broaden manufacturers’ implementation choices,” said Koichi Tagawa, chairman of the NFC Forum. “The expansion of NDEF to a new tag operation format, NFC-V, means that NFC technology can reach a broader market and support even more use cases. We are grateful to the NFC Forum’s Working Groups and Technical Committee for their hard work and dedication.”

Candidate specifications remain candidates for final release pending feedback from NFC Forum members and other standards organizations. By releasing candidate specifications, the NFC Forum enables organizations in the NFC ecosystem to begin integrating them into their own work. This gives both NFC Forum members and other standards organizations an opportunity to accelerate their development and provide valuable feedback that can be incorporated into the final specifications. Once the feedback has been evaluated and integrated, the specification will be officially adopted and released by the NFC Forum.

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