Smartphone is increasingly present in our environment. For many of us, it wakes us up in the morning, allows us to know how to dress after checking the weather, accompanies us in transportation, allows us to stay in touch with real world and many other activities related to each of us. In addition to that we are purchasing more and more products and services with our smartphones and our interaction is growing with our environment, home, car or city. And as you know, all this carries the generic name of IOT.
With performing all the previously mentioned activities, we leave our traces on the Internet. We leave information on different social medias. Only with the simple use of Gmail, free for the user, we give authorization to Google to use the information contained in our emails. By comments on blogs, on Amazon, on TripAdvisor, on Twitter, pictures on Flicker or Instagram, we therefore share much more information than we think, again, more or less voluntarily, and all this is enriching databases under the generic term of big data. This information is making the economic happiness of many companies, the first being Google, Apple or Amazon. This IOT is mainly an Internet of the data, we give our data that is recovered and exploited by others.
As more things are getting connected, concerns over data privacy and security are growing. Using NFC as a communication method can help resolve some of these concerns.
This is where the NFC comes in.
NFC (=Near Field Communication) technology was born thanks to the coupling of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Technology) with smart cards. RFID is a contactless identification system that has been used for a long time for traceability purposes. It enables simplified transactions, data exchange, pairing, wireless connections and convenience between two objects when in close proximity to one another (about 10 centimeters). Because the communication is one-to-one and requires such close proximity, data privacy is more inherent that with other wireless approaches.
The choice of NFC technology on mobile phones is guided by several motivations related to the consumer use of the mobile phone at the present time and by various types of NFC applications conceivable in the field of mobile banking, creative marketing, health. Indeed, in recent years the integration of several technologies (4G, 4G+ networks, GPS, NFC, etc.) into the mobile phone has transformed it into a multiservice tool that cannot be ignored in our daily lives.
Today, NFC technology is gaining interest from manufacturers, particularly those in the telephony, IOT and sensors sector, who have integrated it into many consumer Smartphones. There are many applications ranging from electronic payment to time-stamping and localization.
Communication Modes of NFC:
NFC has 3 communication modes: Card emulation mode, The reader mode and Peer-to-Peer.
Card emulation mode: In this mode, any NFC enable device, can be used to make transactions instead of using any contactless card. In the case where the NFC enable device is a compatible mobile phone, the SIM card of the operator can be used as a security element by storing encrypted information. There are many different sort of card-type applications, such as, contactless payments, identification card, loyalty card, access control, motel pass cards etc.
The reader mode : The mobile terminal becomes a contactless card reader (active mode) or “radio labels” (electronic tags). This mode allows you to read information from various NFC-enables smart objects, only by approaching your mobile phone in front of electronic tags placed on the street, on bus shelters, monuments, posters … or on packages, products = smart advertising. Not only reading but it’s also possible to write information to these smart information sources using the right NFC enabled device.
Peer-to-Peer Mode: This mode allows two NFC enabled devices to exchange information, such as vCards, photos, videos, tickets, etc. A device with NFC technology is capable of exchanging information with contactless smart cards but also with other devices equipped with this technology. In peer-to-peer mode, one of reader/writer behaves as a tag, creating a communication link. Using NFC in this mode is equal to having a secure network in your pocket that you can use in any location with peace of mind.
Study Case: Hotel Room Access
Let’s take a first mobile phone user, who usually travels and book hotels for his stay. This person has a SIM card in which an NFC application is installed. His mobile operator, in Belgium, told him that he could access NFC devices thanks to his SIM card because it has a SIM-Centric technology.
Our user thus travels on business in different regions of Belgium. The hotels in which he stays ask him to pass his phone in front of a terminal in order to obtain a digital key. So, his phone can be used as a key.
Afterwards, our user goes to a conference in Germany and also wants to check-in in a hotel room. At the time of registration, the reader accepts his SIM card but informs him that his operator will charge him a fee due to this service outside Belgium.
Upon returning from the conference, the user asks his operator to change the billing-plan so that he does not have to pay any fees in the future and the operator tells him that this is impossible because at the moment the service costs the operator.
In another case our user could book his hotel room online. He would then receive on his mobile phone an electronic key that would be valid throughout the stay and that, when used with the NFC chip and the appropriate application, would allow him to access his room by presenting the mobile in front of the door equipped with an NFC reader.
The Clarion Hotel in Stockholm, helped consumers to access directly their rooms and avoid queues by replacing all room keys in 2011 with digital keys for customers already equipped with NFC devices. Same approach for check-out, made with a simple touch between their phones and the lobby reader. 60% of users said they had saved more than ten minutes and 80% would use the system again if they had the opportunity while the hotel was able to reassign check-in staff while removing keys replacement problems.
Transport users already use their phones as boarding passes and we witness NFC payment systems in restaurants, taxis, shopping malls or distributors. In hospitals, offices, university campuses, we can use our phones to enter buildings, make purchases, use transportation and identify ourselves. NFC phones is even being used to provide physicians with access to your medical history.
Industry experts predict that the NFC will continue to revolutionize our lives in the years to come. Our daily checklist – “keys, wallet, phone” – is about to shorten. It will not take long before you see the functionality of these three objects integrated into an NFC compatible handset.