RapidNFC has become the first NFC supplier to release the next generation NXP NTAG210 NFC Tag. The initial launch batch has already been made available to a select number of RapidNFC software partners.
The NTAG210 is an upgrade to the existing NTAG203 NFC chip that has gained worldwide popularity due to its competitive price point, high scan distance and universal compatibility with NFC-enabled mobile phones
. The NXP NTAG21x NFC chip series builds upon these features by offering increased performance and scan distance, extended memory options, password protected data and a UID ASCII mirror.
We expect the NTAG203 to firmly remain the NFC chip of choice until the availability and price of the new chips reaches a similar level. These new features will however offer benefit to many customers in the future, notably in asset tracking, security access and vCard encoding.
Key Features Explained
1. Better radio frequency performance that results in an increased scan distance.
2. 32-bit password authentication that offers a simple mechanism to protect data stored on the tag.
3. UID ASCII mirror that aids tag serialisation by copying the IC unique serial number to a stored NDEF message.
4. A range of memory sizes fit for application. The NTAG210, NTAG213, NTAG215 and NTAG216 will offer 48, 144, 504 and 888 bytes of user memory respectively.
5. NTAG21x products are NFC Forum Type 2 Tag compliant, ensuring their compatibility with all current and future NFC-enabled phones and tablets.
The internet of things is the idea that all physical objects will also have a virtual presence, allowing them to be identified and in many instances interact with other electronic devices online. This simple concept has the potential to drastically alter how we interact with the world around us.
A communication technology is required to enable these interactions and there are a number of options available, notably Bluetooth, barcodes, GPS, RFID and now NFC. To understand which technology fulfils this role best we must first understand the fundamental requirements needed to make the internet of things possible.
1. Mobile Connectivity
Any technology that enables the internet of things must be smartphone compatible. Smartphones will remain the primary source of mobile internet connection and therefore are essential to enable interaction with physical objects. That rules out RFID but leaves Bluetooth, barcodes, GPS and NFC in the mix.
2. Cost of Integration
The cost of integrating the chosen technology must be substantially cheaper than the overall value of the object itself. Integrating Bluetooth tags or GPS technology into everyday objects is expensive and therefore only viable for high value goods such as cars or laptops. Barcodes on the other hand only cost as much as the print so in many cases can be integrated at no extra cost at all. NFC tags currently sit in between these categories, costing about £0.15 per tag ($0.20) when purchased in large quantities. This makes NFC suitable for most products with the exception of very low value FMCGs such as fizzy drinks or baked beans ! That rules out GPS and Bluetooth and leaves just barcodes and NFC.
3. Instant Interactions
Aligning a smartphone camera to a barcode, relative to tapping an NFC tag is a very time consuming process. This is important because if we build the internet of things into our daily lives it must offer effortlessness and convenience. NFC tags offer just that, creating an interaction with a simple tap of your mobile phone. So bye barcodes and hello NFC... or not.
NFC is perfectly placed to become the technology that creates the internet of things but will not be alone in doing this for the foreseeable future. Until the cost of each NFC tag falls to just a few pence (or cents) barcodes will still hold an important role in tagging low value items.
Barcodes can be placed within existing designs and packaging for nothing and therefore long term they make complete sense, after all how slick does the interaction with a tin of baked beans need to be !?
As more phones are equipped with NFC the value added by the one tap, effortless nature of each interaction will ultimately make NFC the technology of choice and its use will become widespread. What is for sure is that the internet of things is already on its way and NFC will play a crucial role in making it happen.
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Near Field Communication (NFC) has grown considerably as means of wireless communication in the last three years due to its inclusion in smartphones. The number of NFC-enabled mobile phones
on the market is predicted to be 500 million by 2014, moving NFC from an introductory to more established and available technology. If NFC is to succeed long-term it must now offer both consumers and businesses clear and long-term value.
Benefits To Customers
1. NFC simplifies interactions with a one tap, frictionless experience. This could be tapping your phone to make a payment, share content or activate a task on your phone.
2. NFC creates an instant connection between the physical and digital worlds. By enabling instant access to online content NFC can enable interactive advertisements as well as more practical applications such as linking to local information, vouchers or instruction manuals.
3. NFC is readily available in mobile phones. This availability allows services such as loyalty cards, payments, tickets and vouchers to become digital whilst still being able to interact with existing hardware such as payment terminals or access gates.
Benefits To Businesses
1. NFC is cheap to implement. Because NFC-enabled phones act as both an NFC reader and writer businesses can avoid the need for custom hardware development. NFC tags used to ID items or link to content online are also becoming increasingly cheap to purchase and customise.
2. NFC simplifies the customer experience. Interaction via NFC can be summed up in one word 'tap'. Tap to get a voucher. Tap to view a video. Tap to download an app. Tap to register. Tap to gain access. The ability to simplify complex interactions is perhaps NFC's most important characteristic.
3. NFC tags allow for full colour custom print and branding. The ability to created printed NFC tags or hide them within existing products allows objects to become 'smart' whilst not altering the products appearance or branding. Equally because NFC-enabled phones can act as both an NFC reader and writer it allows for intuitive and visually appealing NFC-enabled apps that can be downloaded onto a customer's phone.
4. NFC can contribute to your customer data. By making services digital it allows greater opportunity to collate data to better understand your customers and how they interact with your business.
Near Field Communication (NFC)
NFC is a wireless communication technology that allows for the transfer of small amounts of data. NFC is capable of complex two way communication and can therefore be used in a wide range of applications such mobile payments, secure access control and pairing electronic devices. NFC is however also commonly used for one way communication between an NFC reader, typically a mobile phone, and an NFC tag
; we will focus on this aspect when comparing with QR codes.
A QR Code is a 2 dimensional bar code that can store short pieces of information such as text or a web address (URL). It was invented in 1994 as a means to track vehicles during manufacture but is now more commonly seen in marketing and print advertising.
NFC tags and QR codes in essence perform the same function; they store small amounts of information such as a web address (URL) or ID. They do however perform this function in very different ways and understanding these differences will allow you to make the right choice.
NFC: NFC-enabled mobile phones work straight out of the box and do not require any additional software. Simply tap an NFC tag from your home screen and the web link or command will launch automatically.
QR: Mobile phones require an app in order to use QR codes. To scan the QR code you must first access an app and then align your camera to the code.
Winner: NFC tags offer a more slick and intuitive user experience.
NFC: NFC tags are available for £0.20 ($0.30) each for an order of 1000 tags.
QR: QR codes only cost as much as the print and can therefore be included within existing print media at no extra cost.
Winner: QR codes are the cheapest option.
NFC: NFC tags are typically 10-30 mm in diameter and are very thin at just 10-20 microns (0.01-0.02 mm).
QR: QR codes must be at least 20mm × 20mm to ensure they can be scanned without error.
Winner: Both have a comparable size.
NFC: NFC tags scan be scanned without a direct line of sight and therefore can be integrated within products and/or hidden from view. Specialist on-metal NFC tags must be used when the tag is placed within 5 mm of a metal surfaces.
QR: QR codes must be printed visibly onto each product. Particular care must be taken when printing on 3D products.
Winner: NFC tags are better suited for product integration.
5. Print and Customisation
NFC: NFC tags are available with full colour custom print and can be hidden behind printed media and/or within products.
QR: QR codes must be visible and can only have very limited customisation in order to maintain their performance.
Winner: NFC tags allow for full colour custom print and branding.
6. Availability in Mobile Phones
NFC: As of May 2013 NFC is available in mobile phones from 9 out of 10 of the world's major manufacturers. It is estimated there will be 500 million NFC-enabled phones on the market by 2014.
QR: QR codes can be used by all existing smartphones.
Winner: QR codes can be read by all smartphones.
NFC: NFC tags are easy to encode using mobile apps available on NFC-enabled phones. Our recommendations are NXP TagWriter for Android, NFC Interactor for Windows Phone 8 and NFC Shortcuts for Blackberry. NFC tags are also rewritable and therefore allow for task launcher applications such as NFC Task Launcher.
QR: QR codes can be freely generated online from a wide range of websites.
Winner: Both are easy to programme however only NFC tags are rewritable.
NFC: NFC tags have a fixed manufacture ID number and specialist tags can also support encryption to hide the programmed data.
QR: QR codes offer no security.
Winner: NFC tags are the only option when security is required.
RFID and NFC are two closely related wireless communication technologies that are used globally for a vast number of applications such as access control, asset tracking and contactless payments. RFID was first patented in 1983 and is the precursor to NFC, so we will begin there.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID enables a one way wireless communication, typically between an unpowered RFID tag and a powered RFID reader. RFID tags can be scanned at distances of up to 100 meters without a direct line of sight to the reader and as such RFID is used globally for asset tracking in warehousing, airport baggage handling, livestock identification and much more. RFID operates at a range of radio frequencies each with their own set standards and protocols.
RFID Frequency Band
120-150 kHz (Low Frequency, LF)
Up to 10 cm
13.56 MHz (High Frequency, HF)
Up to 1 m
433 MHz (Ultra High Frequency, UHF)
865-868 MHz & 902-928 MHz (Ultralight High Frequency, UHF)
2450-5800 MHz (Microwave)
3.1-10 GHz (Microwave)
Up to 200 m
Near Field Communication (NFC)
NFC operates at 13.56 MHz and is an extension of High Frequency (HF) RFID standards. NFC therefore shares many physical properties with RFID such as one way communication and the ability to communicate without a direct line of sight. There are however three key differences.
1. NFC is capable of two way communication and can therefore be used for more complex interactions such as card emulation and peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing.
2. NFC is limited to communication at close proximity, typically 5cm or less.
3. Only a single NFC tag can be scanned at one time.
These properties were developed primarily to enable secure mobile payments and it is for this reason NFC is limited to singular and close proximity interactions. An important by-product is that NFC is now available in the majority of mobile phones and this is perhaps the most important difference between NFC and RFID.
offer both businesses and day-to-day users slick and intuitive communication between mobile phones and between a mobile phone and an NFC tag. Examples include file sharing via Android Beam, instant connection setups between electronic devices and the ability to link everyday objects such as posters to online content. For more great NFC ideas - click here
ISO 14443, 15693, 18000
Up to 1 m
Up to 10 cm
Scan Tags Simultaneously
The NFC Task Launcher app allows you to update your phones settings or launch an application by simply tapping your NFC-enabled phone to an NFC tag. Available for free on Google Play this app is intuitive to use and will have you programming your own NFC tags in minutes ! Here are some great ideas to get you started...
For help encoding your NFC tags see our step-by-step guide to NFC Task Launcher
1. In The Car
Ever used your phone for navigation? Place an NFC tag on your dashboard to turn on GPS and launch a navigation app. Quick tip: When you download NFC Task Launcher you will need to provide the app with 'root access' to enabled/disable GPS on some smartphones.
2. Connect to a Wi-Fi Network
Programme an NFC tag to allow easy access to your Wi-Fi network. Perfect at home or in the office this great feature allows visitors to connect without the need for repeat passwords.
3. Social Media
Keep your friends and followers updated in an instant. Programme an NFC tag to send a Tweet or check in via Facebook or Foursquare each time it is scanned.
4. At Work
Place an NFC tag by your desk to update your phone settings when you get to and leave work. Scan your tag in the morning to turn your phone to silent and connect to Wi-Fi. When leaving work scan another tag to turn your ring volume to loud and launch a music player.
5. Call And Text Your Frequent Contacts
Assign an NFC tag to frequently used contacts and simply tap to dial a call or send a text message. This idea is great for a work diary and saves trawling through your contact list each time your make a call.
6. At Home
Update Wi-Fi settings as you leave or enter your home. Using the 'toggle' feature you can programme an NFC tag to alternate between the 'on' and 'off' settings. Place the NFC tag by your front door to toggle Wi-Fi settings and extend the battery life of your smartphone.
7. Watch Your Favourite Shows and Movies
A quick and simple way to watch videos on your smartphone or tablet. Tap an NFC tag to turn on Wi-Fi and launch your favourite streaming app such as Netflix or LOVEFiLM.
8. Going To Bed
Scan an NFC tag on your bedside table to set an alarm, turn your phone silent and get a great night's sleep !
Leading technology companies launch Payforit via NFC launcher
Mobile billing and messaging aggregator txtNation and Europe's largest supplier of NFC tags and products, RapidNFC have partnered to become the first to offer direct operator billing via NFC technology.
Using NFC tags
, compatible mobile phones can scan the tag, launching a tailored payment interface. The user simply confirms payment and is billed. Users browsing via WiFi, rather than their mobile data plan, are prompted to enter their mobile number to continue payment.
The NFC tags are tiny microchips which RapidNFC can incorporate into a wide selection of products from stickers, smart posters and wristbands to promotional items such as pens, keyfobs, bar mats and various other merchandise.
Whilst other NFC methods exist, txtNation have introduced a solution without any complicated signup process. Without additional linking of a phone to a bank account, card payment or by entering a username or password, users can be billed with txtNation’s solution with a quick NFC tap and a one-click confirmation on a mobile Web page.
Through their 3G or 4G connections, a user is charged securely and quickly to their monthly mobile contract or pay-as-you-go balance.
The solution works in any country where carriers support MSISDN pass-through, so the user can enjoy "one-click billing". To kickstart this new solution, txtNation have been trialling it with Payforit
, the UK's latest and most prominent direct carrier billing scheme.
Popular already for charity donations, the solution has potential for event ticketing and even tangible goods. It could be used through a point-of-sale terminal, or the merchant's PC, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
txtNation Director and co-founder Jon Rowsell said "It's great to be first to market with this. It's something we've been conceptualizing for a while and to be able to finally offer NFC, combined with carrier billing, for those early end user and merchant adopters, means that anyone with an NFC-enabled phone in the UK can use this. More and more phones are coming with NFC enabled, and clients are wanting to take advantage of this impressive technology."
He adds "It is expected that NFC will become a mass market payment system, with the likes of weve.com or or Visa's payWave app coming on stream. txtNation's solution, however, is available today without the need for further consolidation in the market or increased cooperation between operators. txtNation has pioneered mobile billing and messaging over the past 10 years and is proud to be at the forefront of what promises to be a popular payment method."
Direct Carrier Billing through a user's mobile network, unlike questionable bank-linked NFC, means there is an SMS confirmation for every transaction made, boosting consumer confidence and giving true billing transparency.
Consumers and businesses alike want an easy-to-use system that requires no user registration, providing friction-free, one-touch billing. txtNation and RapidNFC can provide this today, so clients can instantly deploy and get started in an exciting new sector.
"We've been approached by a number of clients looking for a quick and simple way of making NFC payments" says Phil Coote, CEO of RapidNFC, "and to date we haven’t been able to recommend anything as there has been nothing in the market worth shouting about. When txtNation approached us with this concept we immediately knew this was going to be a ground breaking product, and set to work on a prototype. The result is fantastic, nothing like we have seen before and so easy for clients to deploy to accept payments from not only all those with NFC on their handsets, but anyone with a mobile internet browser."
txtNation are offering interested businesses the chance to try the service for free, by providing an NFC payment sticker to their door, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your company name, postal address and where you would like to deploy NFC billing, and txtNation will deliver you an NFC tag pre-encoded with their billing solution.
1. NFC Task Launcher
Launch your favourite apps and update your phones settings with a simple tap of your mobile phone. Using free mobile apps such as NFC Task Launcher for Android you can easily programme your NFC tags to trigger tasks on your NFC-enabled mobile phone
. Examples include tapping an NFC tag on your car dashboard to launch a navigation app and enable GPS or tapping an NFC tag by your bedside to turn your phone to silent and set an alarm for the morning. The options are endless ! Click here for the RapidNFC step-by-step guide for NFC Task Launcher
2. Out of Home Advertising
Enhance traditional printed media with the interactivity of NFC. NFC Smart Posters
allow customers to download mobile vouchers, access local information, 'like' and 'follow' on social media or even purchase products by simply tapping their phone ! NFC Smart Posters are created by attaching a visible NFC tag to the front of the poster or applying a hidden NFC tag to the reverse of the poster, aligned to an NFC graphic or call to action.
3. Interactive Events
Supply each guest with an individually programmed NFC tag and offer a seamless experience. Each NFC tag acts as an ID chip and can be used for access control, registering interest and creating unique experiences. Better still each interaction can be logged via a mobile app so there is no need for expensive hardware or infrastructure. NFC tags are available in a range of event friendly formats such as NFC wristbands
, access cards
4. Tourist Trails and Treasure Hunts
Place NFC tags at different points of interest, providing location specific information and content when they are scanned. A great example is the South Downs Way National Park
, who have used NFC enabled sign posts to help visitors better explore their surroundings. This same logic can also be applied to treasure hunts, simply place an NFC tag at each location and log each 'find' via a mobile or web app.
5. Keep Customers Engaged with Dynamic Content
Just because an NFC tag is encoded to the same web address it doesn't mean your content has to stay the same ! Regularly update promotions and information to encourage repeat scans of your NFC marketing. NFC tags are available in a large range of promotional products
and include everything from NFC fridge magnets
and window stickers
through to NFC pens
and even beer mats
For our NFC smart poster customers there has been a dilemma, they know NFC tags will not work if placed next to a metal surface but how can you prevent it when the poster is installed across hundreds or even thousands of media sites ? Solution: The new Reverse On-Metal NFC Tag
RapidNFC has developed this exclusive on-metal NFC product where the adhesive layer is in front of the NFC tag whilst the on metal shielding remains behind it. Designed for application on the reverse of each NFC smart poster this tag provides advertisers with a universal solution that ensures functionality in any display site.
Purchase Reverse On-Metal NFC Tags online today
. In stock and available for immediate dispatch.
We often get asked whether NFC is 'mainstream' yet. It's an interesting question. The ABI report released a few weeks ago stated that NFC 'had reached the point of no return'. But where is NFC tag technology now and where is it going ?
Here at RapidNFC, we've often considered the progress of NFC tags with a 'supermarket store' analysis.
At the moment, NFC is perhaps just starting to approach the 'Store' level. You are starting to see NFC tags being used in locations such as smart posters. Perhaps in some locations, NFC is starting to be used to create virtual vouchers or encourage users to interact via social networks. This is early stages. You are looking at 10-20 tags per store and NFC tags probably placed alongside QR codes or perhaps with a written web addresses. In most instances, NFC isn't even at this stage yet but we are approaching rapidly and soon, NFC will be a common sight.
Once this stage has been reached, NFC is likely to move to the 'Aisle' level. This means that NFC tags will start to appear regularly and in greater numbers. In the supermarket analogy you can consider tags to be placed next to prices on the supermarket shelf so they can be scanned by a mobile phone to provide nutritional information or recipe suggestions. This is a big step. The growth in the quantity of NFC tags used and the ubiquity of the tags between the 'Store' stage and the 'Aisle' stage is substantial. But you are now reaching a level where NFC is part of your daily interactions. Perhaps customers even expect the ability to see NFC tags to create more in depth interaction.
And then NFC will move to product or 'Item' level. Now NFC tags will be placed on every product and packaging, allowing users to scan to store information of 'use-by' dates and quantities. NFC can be used to check in food into the fridge and create reminders to repurchase when products are scanned on the way to the bin. NFC will now be everywhere. It will be on the side of your printer so you can download a user manual. It will be built into your TV so you can tap to stream your videos from your mobile. You might start your car with NFC or even open your front door.
How long will this take ? Most predictions are that by 2014 we'll be firmly into the stage 1 'store' level. By the end of 2014, NFC enabled mobiles will be in enough hands to start making stage 2, the 'Aisle' level possible. 'Item' level is likely to take a bit longer but we will get there.
And what an exciting, creative and fascinating journey it's going to be.