NUREMBERG, GERMANY—Proclaiming a "new era in NFC" (near field communications), semiconductor vendor NXP has announced two new devices that target applications beyond traditional financial transactions. The NTAG I2 C Plus smart tag combines an NFC tag with an I2 C interface to provide high data transfer speeds and provide password and cloning protection. The PN7462 provides a microcontroller, NFC tag, and NFC reader in a single chip for secure access management applications. Both aim to help developers address issues that are impeding IoT adoption, including secure setup and connection of IoT devices into network.
"In the beginning, NFC development was all about getting it standardized and building infrastructure," said NXP's head of marketing and business development in consumer and infrastructure, Olivier Aretz, in an interview with EE Times. "Now it's branching out into new applications." Two of these new applications for NFC include the rapid setup of connected embedded systems, and access management in enterprise and industrial spaces.
One of the barriers impeding IoT adoption, according to Aretz, is the difficult users have in getting the IoT device securely connected to their network. Such setup requires providing the device with network parameters, including name and (ideally, complex) password, which can be tedious at best. At worst, it may require a computer and web-based applications when the device does not have a keyboard and display of its own.
An NFC tag incorporated into the IoT device can greatly simplify such setup, Aretz noted. Using a smartphone that is already network connected, all a user needs to do is "tap" the device to be configured to invoke an NFC transfer of all the necessary setup information. The new NXP tag offers 4x the data transfer speed of their prior generation as well as a variety of features to secure the data transfer. The tag offers a unique 7-byte serial number for each device, elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) for authentication, and 32-bit password protection on memory access. The device also offers energy harvesting that can be used to power attached devices such as a microcontroller.
The PN7462 device combines a Cortex-M0 processor with full NFC card reader and emulation, making it suitable for diverse applications such as access control. Used in combination with a suitable NFC tag, the combined device can read and validate an NFC tag, then control a system (such as door locks or device operation) based on the information the tag contained. The device comes with libraries of validated and pre-certified EMVCo hardware and software for both contact and contactless operation, and uses dynamic power control to optimize communications in harsh environments. It is expected to be available in mass production in April.
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