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The need for secure memory access has piqued the interest of groups behind the SIM and SD card standards to create secure channels between the memory and NFC device (Fig. 3). Additionally, mobile devices that are not NFC enabled can benefit from NFC technology with the integration of an NFC tag in a user-controlled SIM or SD card. The trend of enabling NFC-based payments is predicted to support worldwide transactions totaling $151.7 billion by 2015, according to Frost & Sullivan.

NFC Prepares For Wide Adoption, Fig. 3

Because NFC technology has only undergone small iterative advancements over time, the focus is not to enhance its technical capability. Rather, the goal is to increase the development of market-driven applications. Bright elaborates: “Now that NFC-capable devices are in the hands of hundreds of millions of users, the goal is working with application developers to build NFC solutions. An example of how the NFC Forum is working with developers is the ‘Spotlight for Developers’ event that the Forum recently hosted in San Francisco. The Spotlight for Developer series of events brings application developers together with leaders from the NFC ecosystem to train developers in the technical implementation and key use cases of NFC technology.”

The adoption of NFC standards has even extended to Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 8 building in support at the operating system’s application support interface (API). This level of integration opens up a wide range of applications with wearable technology as well.  Among the wearable devices that could be enabled by a simple NFC “touch” interconnect are wireless speakers, headphones, fitness bands, and a variety of medical devices. Because NFC information is secure and can only be accessed in close proximity, sensitive information like medical or military-personnel data could be kept safely at the fingertips of an authorized entity.

New applications and methods of using NFC are controlled by the NFC Forum specifications. A wide range of industry partners actively contribute to the advancement of these specifications. Bright shares: “If you look at the leadership in the NFC Forum, for example, you see well known representatives from market-leading companies and critical industries, including consumer electronics, semiconductors, financial services, and mobile operators. This very broad range of stakeholders understands the power and potential of this technology.”

Recently, the NFC Forum announced collaboration with ThinFilm as a principal member. With the cost benefit of having a thin-film-based manufacturing method for NFC tags and device components—with the added benefit of imbedded thin-film memory—the development of NFC systems could be significantly reduced. Additionally, companies like Broadcom and Qualcomm have announced their latest chipsets that integrate NFC in addition to the other wireless technologies that they traditionally support.

With its broad adoption, NFC has increased the depth of interaction between mobile device users and their work, retail, travel, medical, and information-driven lifestyles. Although there haven’t been many breakthroughs with NFC technology from a device perspective, the potential applications of an NFC interactive environment are tremendous. The next few years will witness an ever-increasing NFC-enabled world.

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