NFC is a short-range wireless technology that enables the exchange of data among various devices for a variety of use cases. This technology includes multiple existing contactless IC card communication standards. NFC is built into various devices, such as mobile phones, wearable devices, and other equipment.
Original NFC Standards
The basis of NFC technology is the international standard ISO/IEC 18092 (NFCIP-1) and ISO/IEC 21481(NFCIP-2).
In addition to the international standards relevant to NFC, other specifications developed by the NFC Forum, a non-profit industry association, define NFC in more detail. NFC Forum’s specifications define how the different base technologies can be combined into a single device, such as a smartphone, and aim to assure interoperability between such NFC devices, as well as between NFC devices and existing contactless IC cards.
NFC stands for Near Field Communication – a wireless communication technology operating at 13.56 MHz over a short distance of approximately 10 centimeters. This technology enables communication between electronic devices brought within close range of each other, as well as between such devices and conventional contactless IC cards. This technology is attracting much attention as an easy-to-use method of exchanging data simply by "tapping" devices against each other.
Historically, NFC originated from communication technology specified by the international standard ISO/IEC 18092 (NFCIP-1) and later on was extended by ISO/IEC 21481 (NFCIP-2), which added ISO/IEC 14443 and ISO/IEC 15693 to its scope. Although ISO/IEC 15693 uses the same frequency as the other standards, it is applied mainly to Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags used for products and logistics management.
After the establishment of NFCIP-1, NXP Semiconductors N.V. (formerly Philips Semiconductors), Nokia Corporation, and Sony Corporation founded an industry standardization group called "NFC Forum" in 2004 to promote this new technology.
NFC Forum has since developed a set of specifications that, in addition to NFCIP-1, consider the compatibility with existing contactless IC cards. NFC Forum has also set up a certification program allowing device manufacturers to certify that their products conform to the NFC Forum specifications.
NFC Forum developed specifications to realize global compatibility and consistent handling of four communication technologies, and has established specific terminology to distinguish between them:
- NFC-A and NFC-B refer to the Type A and Type B communication technologies specified in the contactless IC card international standard ISO/IEC 14443.
- NFC-F refers to FeliCa communication technology, based on the International Standard ISO/IEC 18092 and JIS X 6319-4.
- NFC-V refers to ISO/IEC 15693-based communication.
Concept of NFC
*Drawn up from materials released by the NFC Forum
The NFC Forum standard follows two basic concepts:
- Provide global compatibility with international communication standards.
- Allow different form factors for devices implementing NFC, compared to existing contactless equipment.
One objective of NFC is to realize international compatibility among contactless IC cards by uniting the three major IC card technologies that are widely in use in various regions of the world. This has improved the convenience of such cards for users, expanded the market for such cards, and promoted the development of applications for them.
Previously, contactless IC card-related products and technologies have been limited to the cards themselves and reader/writers (such as terminals used at retail stores). NFC has made the form factors of such products more flexible, enabled the integration of such products into mobile phones, wearable devices and other consumer devices, and enabled sticker tags with form factors other than ID-1 (credit card-sized form).
* The NFC Forum Type 1 Tag is no longer a mandatory requirement.
FeliCa and Technical Standards
NFC-F, the FeliCa communication technology, is defined as one of the communication methods specified in NFCIP-1 and JIS X 6319-4, and by the NFC Forum. As a result, all NFC devices support NFC-F communication.
Mobile phones equipped with NFC can exchange data with NFC-F-based IC cards and devices. Therefore, the wide range of NFC mobile phones available in the global market can also be used by NFC-F infrastructures.