Monday, July 09, 2007

One more radio in your cellphone

The folks behind near field communications are stepping up their efforts to put one more radio in your cellphone. The NFC Forum announced today that it has begun work to develop a specification for a Host Controller Interface that will link NFC contactless controllers and application processors. Planned for release in 2008, the HCI is targeted at cell phones, PDAs and PC peripherals.

One of the hot applications for NFC is turning the cellphone into a debit card that can make payments at a suitably equipped check out stand with a waive of the handset, a use case that has already made its debut in Japan. Also, Nokia debuted NFC-enabled phones for the US market at CES this year.

NFC operates in the 13.56 MHz frequency range, over a typical distance of a few centimeters. It can ride on top of a variety of physical interfaces including the Serial Peripheral Interface Bus, Inter-Integrated Circuit, Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter, and Universal Serial Bus.

I'd love to hear any experiences of engineers with NFC on their implementation challenges and market acceptance in these early days of the technology. Feel free to post a comment here or email me at

My boss at EE Times concluded last year there is still a long road ahead for NFC in the cellphone. In any case, it's amazing to think some of today's cellphones already might pack six or more radios—cellular, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, FM and NFC.

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