Rarely a technology has led us so enthusiastically as the Near Field Communication or NFC. So far, the best known applications of this wireless connection standard were payments from mobile or access to facilities. But NFC is capable of many things, some so incredible that already you can forward that it will change many of our everyday gestures in the coming years.
To talk of NFC, had the pleasure of interviewing to Pedro Martinez, Director of business development of NXP for southern Europe. NXP is one of the leading manufacturers of NFC chips in the world and, therefore, enjoys a privileged position from which sees what they are doing to the operators of telephony, banks, manufacturers of terminals or companies like Google with respect to this technology. This is what he has told us.
Xatakamovil: NFC is an acronym already quite known by the people who closely follow technology. Not the case with NXP so, I think we should start there what is your role within the world of NFC?
Pedro Martinez: It often happens that technology companies are always less well known than the technologies that create, but that is how it should be. Input, were the co-inventores of NFC technology in 2002 along with Sony. In 2004, NXP was also one of the founders of the NFC Forum, which is the body that brings together all the companies interested in the development of this technology in different fields and now has over 150 members.
This in terms of NFC technology. Our activity, what we live, as a company is the manufacture of integrated circuits NFC. As a company and to give you an idea, NFC had 4,800 billion dollars in 2010 and has a workforce of 28,000 employees
Xatakamovil: Rinse cycle. Back to technology. What is NFC?
Pedro Martinez: NFC is a wireless communication protocol designed, by definition, to transmit to distances below 10 centimeters and allow interaction between the two devices. The idea behind NFC was to get a technology simple and intuitive to use, a technology which it is sufficient proximity to operate.
The essence of the NFC is the ease of use and security, but the important thing, from the industrial point of view, is that it is a universal standard. NFC is compatible with virtually all existing contactless communication standards.
Technologies of wireless communication short distance as, for example, ISO 14443, Mifare aka existed before NFC. This system is widely distributed in card networks of transport, such as the London underground, Paris, Seoul or now Madrid. Mifare is present in systems of secure access to facilities, or in banks. According to our calculations, every day they use chips of this kind more than 1,200 million people around the world.
NFC is compatible with virtually all existing contactless communication standards.
NXP is the manufacturer number one world chips Mifare, both passive chips carrying the cards as the circuits of the readers. The key of NFC, as you said before, is that it is compatible with Mifare. A mobile phone, for example, equipped with NFC, can behave passively and simply emulate a metro access card. In fact, you can store several different virtual cards to, for example, various means of transport.
But, of course, a mobile has screen, battery, a storage system. That allows you to function also as chips Mifare reader, or communicate bi-directionally with another NFC terminal.
Xatakamovil: What practical applications does this, a user-level?
Pedro Martinez: Imagine, for example, that two users want to connect your mobile via Bluetooth. This process is generally quite uncomfortable. It should find the other terminal, enter a pin code, confirm the pin on the other phone … NFC functions as an initiator of the process. It is enough to hold a phone to the other and NFC activates a script that automatically connects two phones using Bluetooth.
Who says Bluetooth, says any other operation. Look, for example, this cardboard (teaches us a Board with several stickers of Android under which there are NFC chips). Imagine I’m going to Starbucks for a while I connect to the WiFi network. Today there to ask for the password to the clerk and enter it manually. In not too long, simply approaching a local sticker NFC phone to activate the connection to the wireless network and enter the parameters of Starbucks. All this only with a gesture.
Xatakamovil: In this sense, it seems the ideal replacement of BiDi codes?
Pedro Martinez: The advantage is obvious. With NFC needless turn on the phone, activate the camera, take the picture and rely on the program to recognize it. The NFC only requires the mobile approach a couple of seconds. Two or three years ago Telefonica only spoke of BiDi and mira now.
I’ll give you more examples (go back to cardboard). I am a tourist in a hotel in another city and I want to know that time will do. You can always turn on the mobile phone and set the application of meteorological information to include that city. With NFC simply you approach the phone a sticker in the window of your room and automatically access a web page where this information is provided to you.
Who says weather information said indications to reach an address, or check-in geo-location social network. Google is already distributing stickers NFC Google Places in ten cities in the United States. Think also of the benefits at the level of marketing. In Foursquare, you can for example, lie in your check-in because the geolocation is very inaccurate and coverage does not reach to Interior. With NFC this does not happen, because you have to physically be ten centimeters of the sticker. You can also perform the operation only with a gesture.
Please note, finally, that we are talking about Android, and APIs for the development of NFC applications publicly available. The developer community can give free rein to their creativity and invent more Pilgrim applications you can imagine. Actually there is no limit to what you can do with NFC.
Actually there is no limit to what you can do with NFC.
Xatakamovil: Speaking of limits, one of the things that most worries users regarding the NFC is precisely safety. A system capable of activating all kinds of scripts as soon as we move the mobile seems a little dangerous what NFC security is based on?
Pedro Martinez: Entry, accessed via NFC you must come, and get much closer. And just for this reason, NFC is much safer than, for example, any WiFi. Second, NFC, unlike, for example, BiDi, has been designed with security in mind. NFC door is open, but back there are several barriers. The first is the own microcontroller, is the hardware of the phone or the SIM, but then is software, encryption systems and all the firewall you want to put of by means.
NFC is multi-application by nature. This means that each application has different levels of security that the programmer must know and be able to have the keys or hack to pass through them, some difficult and AES Cryptography. I will not say that the system is impassable. None is, but that NFC, in relation to other wireless communication systems, is much safer.
Xatakamovil: Is it required human confirmation, for example using a PIN-code, for a transaction NFC?
Pedro Martinez: That depends on how set you the entity. You can have transactions of a couple of euros that do not require it and ask key if the operation, for example, exceeds the ten euros.
Xatakamovil: In any case, it is not possible to use NFC to bombard us with unwanted advertising?
Pedro Martinez: In fact, in many malls already bombard us with ads via Bluetooth. NFC-enabled this is impossible simply because you have to hold the phone to less than 10 cm. From the point of view of business, this also allows segmentation much better public and the message because you know for certain that making the gesture conscious through phone, for example, a poster NFC, is because you are interested in putting.
Xatakamovil: NFC was born in 2002, but they have had to spend ten years so that we start to hear talk about it. in this sense many people wondered how much more time will have to pass so that we will really see practical applications of NFC. At what point are we?
Pedro Martinez: The observation is completely valid. Afortunadamente, there are very powerful actors who are very interested in this technology to work as soon as possible. I’m talking about operators, companies of transport or banks, whose infrastructure is now ready for the NFC precisely for their compatibility with other wireless systems without contact.
At this time we can speak of a ‘ favorable alignment of planets ’ around the NFC. Many years ago, that came out the first phones incorporating this technology at an experimental level, like the Nokia 6131 or 6212. In Spain, the best known was the Nokia 6216, whose development was stopped before placed on the market.
At this time we can speak of a ‘ favorable alignment of planets ’ around the NFC.
At the end of last year, there is a turning point. Mr Eric Shmidt, Google, presenting the Nexus S and stressing that it incorporates an NFC chip appears. Google signed in December last year an agreement with NXP to the entire NFC ecosystem development, and Google is not at all a gift no one in the world of technology.
The Nexus S is the first large terminal with NFC, responsible in part that begins to talk about this technology on a massive scale. At the last Mobile World Congress, already have been announced many other NFC phones. BlackBerry, Nokia and ZTE, will incorporate such NFC in all their smartphones.
The sequence of new releases NFC is being exponential and should not be forgotten that smartphones have a rhythm of unstoppable growth. According to Gartner, in 2011 there will be 400 million smartphones in 2014 will be 875 million, but there’s more. The consulting firm Frost & Sullivan estimates that in 2015 there will be 900 million phones, smartphones or conventional, equipped with NFC.
The Nexus S is the first large terminal with NFC, responsible in part that begins to talk about this technology massively.
In this sense we can say that the firing of output has already taken place. NFC technology is proven in more than 150 pilots in the world and the actors who have to promote this technology already are moving. Good example is the recent agreement between Movistar, Vodafone and Orange to develop NFC platform and to be interoperable regardless of the operator.
Xatakamovil: Speaking of that initiative and other plans pilots such as the one developed in Sitges in 2010, when the NFC will come to the street?
Pedro Martinez: Telefónica, to give you the data of one of the actors who are moving NFC in Spain, has commented that the cruising speed is mid 2012. In other countries such as France and United States operators have already reached similar agreements to develop the NFC ecosystem and even manage its use as a means of payment.
Apart from the projects of operators, banks, or big technology players, the key to the NFC can be applications much more leisure or lifestyle as I have shown. In our opinion, when NFC is a mobile internet applications it will be unstoppable.
Xatakamovil: What is the cost of NFC? Because at the end add a chip to a sticker required an additional cost that can slow down its implementation & #8230;
Pedro Martinez: NFC, obviously, is not intended to be everywhere, but in products like a bottle of wine forty euros, or a pair of boots, the cost is completely marginal. Imagine to be able to approach the mobile a Ribera del Duero label and the label tell you the vintage, tasting information and to initiate you a video on the mobile phone on their elaboration.
The benefits of this type of technology are amazing, but should be based on the cost of the tag with NFC chip within the overall cost of the product. We will not put label NFC to a bundle of pipes. For that is the RFID technology, which works on a completely different range of frequencies and has its own evolution.
Xatakamovil: What is the business model of ls different actors of NFC? The case of the banks is clear. Your model also, you manufacture chips but, for example, what wins an operator driving this technology?
Pedro Martinez: There are several factions involved in the development and monetization of NFC and the operators do not necessarily intervene. Google decided to NFC to your Nexus S and so did not ask permission to any operator. However, we arrived at Spain and Vodafone subsidizes the Nexus S simply because it is a good phone.
The war here is where we will put the item of security and control of NFC.
The war here is where we will put the item of security and control of NFC. Operators are fighting so that this element is in the SIM. The economic flow is very subtle here. A Bank, for example, may decide to reach an agreement with an operator to divide up the Commission of a banking operation by NFC in Exchange for support of operator communications. However, the control element may be out of the SIM.
A bank may even decide to distribute MicroSD card secured are which control the operations of NFC handsets associated to that Bank. Hence the operator is out completely. One thing clear is that benefits will not be loaded the user. The Bank, for example, already saves many costs to change a bank card that is traditional for rent space in an operator SIM or fabricate a MicroSD. What will the model be? That already I can’t tell it you, but that technology is sedimented very quickly. The key is that there is more NFC Terminal and no one wants to be left behind.
Xatakamovil: Now that you mention it from the MicroSD is it possible to add an NFC chip to a phone that does not have it?
Pedro Martinez: Yes, without any problem. Just an adapted MicroSD or a FlexSIM card like those used in some jailbreaks for incorporating NFC into any phone, regardless of your operating system. The only condition is that you must also be an application that manages that chip. The ratio of replacement phones is so fast that we don’t believe it’s necessary to reach such solutions, but it is perfectly possible.
Xatakamovil: NFC technology will allow to establish connections with bandwidth enough for applications, e.g. video type?
Pedro Martinez: Lol The bandwidth of the NFC is only 400 Kbps. Is intended for recognition, authentication and as a transmission system to send only data sufficient to start if other connections on which that data can be sent.
Cannot send video, but enough to personalization data. Imagine that you get home and only had to go mobile through the TV, or put it in a charging with NFC mat to load the settings of your favorite channels on the TV. It also serves to open and configure, for example, a DLNA connection, which is usually a complicated process.
It would even be possible to buy customizable NFC tags. In Android Market there is an application for Android 2.3.3 called Tag Writer that allows programming, from the Nexus S, an NFC tag that has not been protected against writing. You print stickers with the logo of your blog and programs them with a shortcut to your URL, any mobile passing through that tag will immediately access your page. The possibilities, as you said, are endless.
NFC mobile Internet applications – Interview with Pedro …
NFC mobile Internet applications – Interview with Pedro …