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RapidNFC Blog

09 July 2014

At RapidNFC we are always on the lookout for simple and effect hardware solutions that can work in tandem with NFC tags; the MicroNFCBoard is just that offering an integrated development platform that can be used with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, mdeb or PC/Mac

What is the MicroNFCBoard ?

The MicroNFCBoard is a highly diverse NFC development platform that allows for NFC tag emulation, NFC tag reading, NFC tag writing, AppNearMe mode and Android Beam. The applications of this are extremely far reaching with the potential for use in mobile payment platforms, out-of-home advertising, events and asset tracking.


Who is the MicroNFCBoard for ?

The MicroNFCBoard is for NFC platform developers with an understanding of electronics hardware and software programming. If you have no previous experience with such development we instead recommend you read and write NFC tags with a non-programmer friendly mobile application such as NFC TagWriter available on Android.

How is MicroNFCBoard different from other NFC enabled boards ?

Although many NFC enabled boards/readers are available online the accompanying software is very limited. The MicroNFCBoard uses an onboard microcontroller that takes care of NFC related processing and can be controlled using the API.

MircoNFCBoard also offers the unique AppNearMe mode which makes it simple to add an external UI to your project by creating inputs and outputs that can be coded into an NFC-enabled Android app.

Want to find out more or back this project ?

See the Kickstarter project page for more information and how you can back this project.

30 June 2014

RapidNFC, Europe's leading online supplier of NFC tags and products, has provided NFC tags to enable Bluetooth tap pairing technology in the ceramic Bluetooth speaker - Josiah. Compatible with all NFC enabled mobile phones and tablets once tapped Josiah instantly pairs to the users NFC phone using unique data encoded to each NFC tag.

Designed by London design agency anythingby, Josiah is handcrafted using traditional ceramic manufacturing techniques in Stoke-on-Trent and offers wireless audio streaming, interactive touch surfaces as well as NFC pairing technology. Using a rechargeable battery Josiah can provide 10 hours of playing time and its Bluetooth receiver operates from a distance of up to 15 metres.


Phil Coote, RapidNFC's CEO commented, 'This is a fantastic example of how NFC can be effectively used in product design to enhance the user experience. The Josiah Bluetooth speaker is a truly unique product and something we are proud to be a part of.'

Yair Neuman, founder at anythingby also commented, 'Even though the technology is quite simple, there's something magical about NFC. No need to go through complicated settings and pairing steps. I love how the music starts as soon as you tap your phone on the speaker.'

17 June 2014

RapidNFC has long offered the popular Express Delivery Custom Print NFC Tags. Minimum order quantities start from 25 tags and orders can be turned around in 3-5 business days but in some cases they there is a problem, they do not work on metal surfaces.

There are a variety of Custom Print On Metal NFC Tags options available however the minimum order quantities start from 500 units and turnaround time is 3 to 4 weeks. This limitation is caused by the ferrite backing layer that allows the NFC tag to work on metal surfaces as it is expensive to purchase and difficult to handle on a small scale.

With this in mind there are three options when ordering Custom Print On Metal NFC Tags and this guide will help you to pick the best option for you.

1. Durable NFC Tag

The Durable NFC Tag is a completed Custom Print On Metal NFC Tag that can be peeled off the backing sheet as a single piece. Designed for industrial and harsh environments the minimum order quantity starts at 100 however the price is expensive at £3.07 per unit. In higher volumes the price reduces significantly with 1000 pieces costing £1.23 per unit.

Minimum Order Quantity
100 units

Lead Time
2 to 3 weeks

2. Overlaid Printed Sticker

A cheaper option is to buy our white faced NTAG213 Round 29mm (On Metal NFC Tag) and then separately source your own printed stickers that can be laid over the top. There is no minimum order quantity and in-stock products can be dispatched the same or next working day.

Minimum Order Quantity
None

Lead Time
Immediate Dispatch

3. Test Pre-Printed Samples

The last option is to bite the bullet and buy Custom Print On Metal NFC Tags in larger quantities which will allow you to purchase the tags at a significantly reduced rate (typically £0.63 per unit for 2000). We hold Printed On Metal NFC Tags in stock which can be purchased as samples in advance to check the print quality and that the NFC tags meet your technical requirement.

Minimum Order Quantity
500 or 2000 (Product Dependent)

Lead Time
3 to 4 weeks

10 June 2014

RapidNFC, Europe's leading online supplier of NFC tags and products, has prepared and provided NFC enabled window stickers to JUST EAT, the UK's leading online takeaway service. The double sided window stickers with fully integrated and encoded NFC tags are being placed inside JUST EAT partner restaurant windows throughout the UK to provide one touch access to JUST EAT's downloadable phone App.

As part of the production process, the NFC tags have been encoded with unique data to provide regional tracking and performance data. Additionally, for the benefit of iPhone users, the windows stickers also contain a QR Code with matched regional encoding to the NFC tag.


Designed to attract passers-by and people waiting for takeaway collection, the window stickers encourage users to interact and download the JUST EAT App to speed-up and simplify their next takeaway order.

Phil Coote, RapidNFC's CEO commented, 'We are rapidly finding more and more brands using NFC to drive customer engagement. By using NFC enabled window stickers, JUST EAT and restaurant owners can provide quick, easy, one touch App downloads for their customers. It's a perfect example of how NFC is now being used to increase interaction.'

Chris Landon, Head of Trade Marketing at JUST EAT comments, 'We're very excited to be integrating this cutting edge technology into our business. Our mobile apps are a rapidly growing part of our business, so it's great to have another simple way for customers to discover it.'

02 June 2014
With such a wide variety of products on offer getting the right NFC tag for your application can be a challenge; below are the best 5 durable NFC tags you can buy right now !
1. Industrial NFC Tag
Description
Encased within sealed (IP68) plastic the Industrial NFC Tag can withstand knocks, scraps, water and most chemicals used in industrial processes. Available with an adhesive backing or alternatively it can be attached using a 5mm screw fix hole.
Metal Surfaces
This product will work on both metal and non-metal surfaces.
Temperature Resistance
-40 to +85 degrees centigrade
Print Options
ID Print or Single Colour Print
Product Page
2. Printed Durable NFC Tag
Description
The Durable NFC Tag is made from a ultra-tough polycarbonate top face, UV (light) resistant inks and high quality 3M adhesive. The ideal choice where a durable NFC tag is required without compromising on branding and print options.
Metal Surfaces
Both a standard and on-metal version of the Durable NFC Tag is available.
Temperature Resistance
-20 to +70 degrees centigrade
Print Options
Full colour print. Additional options available for unique ID and QR code printing.
Product Page
3. NFC Laundry Tag
Description
Designed specifically to withstand industrial laundry processes the NFC Laundry Tag is our most temperature resistant product. Although designed for clothing this product has also been successfully included in a range of other products such as jewellery and furniture.
Metal Surfaces
This product does not work on or within 5mm of a metal surface.
Temperature Resistance
-20 to +110 degrees centigrade for 500 hours
-20 to +120 degrees centigrade for 100 hours
-20 to +140 degrees centigrade for 5 hours
Print Options
Single Colour Print
Product Page
4. ID Printed Disc Tag
Description
A great value 30mm disc tag made from ABS plastic. This product is both water and dust proof with a 3mm hole so it can be easily screwed in place.
Metal Surfaces
This product does not work on or within 5mm of a metal surface.
Temperature Resistance
-20 to +70 degrees centigrade
Print Options
Single Colour Print
Product Page
5. NTAG203 Round 29mm NFC Tag (Plastic Face)
Description
Our most popular all-purpose NFC tag. This waterproof product is ideal for short term durability and indoor environments at a much lower cost than most durable products.
Metal Surfaces
This product does not work on or within 5mm of a metal surface.
Temperature Resistance
-20 to +70 degrees centigrade
Print Options
ID Print
Product Page
27 May 2014

So here we are again. The next iPhone may have NFC. I think we've heard this before.

The latest comments are from the analyst Morgan Stanley who mention 'We see growing evidence Apple will adopt NFC as a core part of its mobile payments strategy' and that NFC chip manufacturer NXP will supply the NFC chips'. Strong words indeed. This comes on the back of pro-NFC predictions by Ming Chi-Kuo, a KGI securities analyst with an historically accurate crystal ball on things Apple.

Anyone involved in the NFC industry wants Apple to come on board. There's no question it would give the eco-system a boost and it would make a full house of mobile phone vendors. In terms of percentage of phones in the market with NFC, it's not as significant as it used to be of course. However, the fact that every major smartphone would have NFC – regardless if the last player was Apple or not – is important enough in itself.

Obviously, most of the talk is about Apple using NFC for payments but we've said this so many times – NFC is so much more than that. The possibilities for non-payment related usage are so broad – asset tracking, ticketing, vouchers, pairing, etc - that NFC without payments is a reason enough. However, most of the rumours are centred on Apple's need to enter the mobile payments market and the use of NFC to help achieve that.

Unfortunately, as much as RapidNFC would love to jump on board, we are a little cautious. It's worth mentioning that some of the venture capital firms that purchased NXP (the predicted NFC chip supplier for the iPhone 6) from Phillips back in 2006 are currently selling over 17m shares they own in NXP. That's around $1bn. In short, at the same time as Morgan Stanley are predicting great things for NXP because of the NFC/Apple possibility – current major investors are selling shares. Clearly, there can be a number of reasons for this but the messages are getting a little mixed.

As far as other analyst predictions, RapidNFC has been around long enough to have heard these before. Most of them are along the lines of 'it's the right time' or 'it's about time' rather than anything solid.

So, what's our take on the current iPhone 6 NFC rumours ? Well, it’s pretty much as you were. That isn't to say that they are wrong of course and the iPhone could well have NFC. It's simply that until the spec sheets are printed, it is still really all just speculation.

19 May 2014
1. Download the NFC TagWriter app from NXP. A great app free to download from Google Play.
2. Turn on Bluetooth and pair your NFC phone to the Bluetooth device. In this example we are using a Bluetooth headset however other common examples include speakers, cameras, mobile phones and printers.
3. Open the TagWriter app.
4. Select 'Create, write and store' from the menu.
5. Select 'New' then scroll down and select 'Bluetooth'.
6. Here you will see the device that you have paired to your phone. In this case it is U&I-21T. Select this device.
7. TagWriter will confirm the 'Device name' as well as the MAC address. The MAC address is unique to each Bluetooth device and is the code used by other NFC phones to pair the device.

Select the 'Device class' and check the box to 'Create Bluetooth Handover Select Message'. Press 'Next' and then again on the next screen.
8. Scan your NFC tag and wait for the confirmation screen.
10. If needed turn your Bluetooth device to pairing made. Tap any NFC phone or tablet to the NFC tag and watch it instantly pair with the Bluetooth device!
29 April 2014

RapidNFC launched our ScanStrength rating system almost two years ago to measure the relative scan distance performance of NFC tags and products. We created ScanStrength as a relative rating from 1 to 10 so that our customers could get an idea how one tag might compare to another. The highest performing tag has a rating of 10 and a zero would essentially mean touching the tag to get a response. All the other tags are then graded between the two points.

A large number of factors affect ScanStrength performance including antenna size, antenna design, NFC chip, whether the tag is on-metal and so on. Also, of course, is the performance and design of the phone itself. The ScanStrength test is a guideline developed so comparisons can be made.

When we launched ScanStrength, we were just starting to be manufature tags with the NTAG203 chip. The performance of the NTAG203 tended to be better than any previous NFC chips and most of the new NTAG203 tags had an obvious ScanStrength improvement - gaining 9 or 10 on the ScanStrength scale.

Since that point, ScanStrength performances have gradually increased as we have focused our product line to the best performing tags on the market. And now, with the launch of the new NTAG21x series of NFC chips, we've seen another significant jump in scan distances. In fact, increases have been so good that it's fair to say that tag sizes have stepped down by a level for the same performance. For example, the new 25mm tags perform as well as the old 29mm tags, the new 29mm tags as well as the old 38mm tags. It's quite a difference. Such is the difference now that one of our most popular tags - the NTAG203 29mm - which used to score a 9 on the ScanStrength scale now sits at 6. The tags are clearly just as good as they have always been - it's simply that the bar has been raised.

One effect of these performance increases is that tags are now available with great performance in smaller sizes. We've already mentioned the 25mm but the new NTAG213 22mm tags (currently available as a clear sticker but shortly as a white sticker) have an excellent performance for the size - as good as the old 25mm tags.

This is good news. NFC is a near field technology - it's one of it's core strengths. The requirement for a use/phone to be in proximity to a product/item/advert/etc is essential to the way NFC works and one of the great things about it. However, the ability to shrink the size of the tags and maintain a good user experience is very welcome news indeed.

28 March 2014

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is compatible with all Ultralight, NTAG203 and NTAG213 NFC chips. These NFC chips are found in the majority of NFC tags and products including Printed NFC Stickers, NFC Hang Tags and NFC Starter Packs.

What can I do with NFC tags ?

NFC tags allow you to instantly update your phones settings or launch a web address by simply tapping your mobile phone. The Trigger App is free to download from Google Play and is currently the most popular NFC app but there are also a wide range of free and low cost alternatives. Specific to Samsung the TecTile app offers similar features to Trigger and Samsung offers the TecTile NFC tags as an option to use with it.

Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung TecTile and Samsung TecTile 2

The original Samsung TecTile used a 1K Mifare NFC chip that is not compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S5 but is compatible with previous smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3. Samsung have therefore created an updated TecTile using a universally compatible NFC chip, the Samsung TecTile 2. In short, makes sure you buy the TecTile 2 !

Can I use NFC tags other than the TecTile with Samsung smartphones ?

Yes. The Samsung TecTile is designed for use specifically with the TecTile app however there are a large range of alternative NFC tags and NFC apps. For more information see our recommended NFC Apps or popular NFC Starter Packs.

21 March 2014

We've been asked a lot recently about the new NTAG216 chip from NXP and when we will stock it. It's an important product because it replaces the 1k in terms of memory capacity and Topaz in terms of all round mobile phone compatibility.

It's a perfect tag for vCard storage and the password protection features available on the new NTAG21x series chips means that it can also be used to store some larger data sets if required.

We will be stocking the NTAG216 in three sticker variants by the end of March and a PVC card variant during April. From there, we will see what customers prefer and decide whether to add additional products.

The stickers will be a 29mm white face, 29mm clear sticker and a 38mm clear sticker. Pre-orders can be taken from 24th March for an early April delivery.

NTAG216 NFC Tag
How about the NTAG215 ?

At the moment we have no plans to stock the NTAG215 (which has 504 bytes of memory against the 888 of the NTAG216).

What other NTAG21x series chips will RapidNFC stock ?

We think that the market is essentially about the higher memory capacity NTAG216 and the flexible and more cost effective NTAG213. We have some NTAG210 which is a cheaper option for those who don't require the memory of the NTAG213 but in the long term, we think it'll be about the 216 and 213. The other options, such as the NTAG210, 212 and 215 aren't likely to feature much and we have no current plans to increase any sticker or product stock with these chips.

And the new Ultralight EV1 ?

And this is where it gets really confusing. The EV1 is an advanced version of the Ultralight with the same memory but additional features similar the NTAG210. At the moment, the additional features are not in demand and we have no current plans to offer this chip as a sticker. It's likely we will start to offer this in card and wristband format as a replacement to the existing ultralight options but it will depend on volume pricing and demand.

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The RapidNFC Blog

New NFC products, comments, general views and other opinions about NFC tags, NFC phones and all things NFC !