NFC (Near Field Communication) devices: having interoperability issues?


    As the NFC Forum says: “NFC makes life easier and more convenient for consumers around the world by making it simpler to make transactions, exchange digital content, and connect electronic devices with a touch”.
    Using NFC (Near Field Communication) to activate a WiFi connection on arrival at home or to the office, opening security doors with a smartcard and PIN, or pairing a car’s Bluetooth hands-free kit with an NFC-enabled handset shouldn’t be an issue for consumers.

    The main concern for product manufacturers is to provide a reliable customer experience. NFC adds a new dimension to the user experience: a way of interacting with other devices and NFC tags at high speed. But when badly implemented, this technology can ruin the customer’s experience and damage the manufacturer’s brand.

    The keyword here is interoperability.

    NFC Forum Logo

    Interoperability is one of the cornerstones of NFC technology. Its aim is to ensure that users of any NFC-capable device can easily interact with any other NFC-capable device or tag, irrespective of who manufactured it.

    As NFC technology is nowadays implemented in a constantly increasing number and type of products, product manufacturers must prevent typical issues such as:

    • Two manufacturers’ NFC-enabled phones failing when trying to exchange data such as photos or business cards
    • An NFC-capable phone failing to link properly with a speaker or sound system
    • Phones unable to read NFC tags and users often don’t know why

    It is important that manufacturers comply with the NFC Forum’s standards to guarantee optimal interoperability for their products, and avoid communication and paring problems.

    To identify and fix NFC interoperability problems in advance, while respecting time to market constraints, manufacturers need to include these steps from the very beginning of product development:

    1. Debug sessions with an authorized laboratory using devices currently on the market
    2. Pre-certification testing campaign in an NFC lab
    3. NFC certification of the product

    An authorized NFC laboratory can carry out its own interoperability testing and help manufacturers to implement NFC technology right from the development phase for their product. Each project and each device must be addressed with a different approach.

    Applus+ Laboratories is authorized by the NFC Forum and performs the official testing plan required by its certification program.

    By Lluís Boada

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