What is NFC?
NFC is a short range wireless RFID technology that makes use of
interacting electromagnetic radio fields instead of the typical
direct radio transmissions used by technologies such as
Bluetooth. It is meant for applications where a physical touch, or
close to it, is required in order to maintain security.
Examples of usage
Mobile phone actions 6:30
McDonalds table games 1:48
Electronic Shelf Labels 1:00
iCarte – a closer look
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Reader and Writer
Contains a secure element that can be configured as credit,
debit, pre-paid and loyalty cards, for secure contactless
iCarte can also read NFC Smart Posters, download or upload
electronic coupons, tickets or receipts.
Attaches to the bottom connector of the iPhone
Different models available for iPhone 3, 4/4S, & 5
Commonwealth Bank iCarte
Available to order through the ‘Kaching’ application ~AU$50
Black, White, or Pink colour choices for iPhone 4/4S cases
Use with the Kaching application requires Commonwealth Bank
Mastercard. Payments up to $100 can be made using PayPass.
Once ‘personalised’ with the Kaching application, the iCarte
cannot be used on another iPhone, or with another phone
number* - therefore don’t buy a second hand used iCarte.
Trying to use the iCarte on another iPhone may ‘lock’ the iCarte
so it cannot be used with the original iPhone either.
A Locked iCarte cannot be used for NFC / RFID
*According to Netbank technical support
iCarte – the good news
You don’t need to personalise it for use with Kaching to be able
to use it for NFC/RFID purposes.
Available on eBay Australia. Recent sales range: AUD$10-$30
You don’t need to be a Commonwealth Bank customer for
‘NFC Tags’ application demo
App store search for NFC
Compatibility of NFC tags
NTAG203 – worked with ‘NFC Tags’ application
Samsung TecTiles – based on NXP Mifare chip – Not working
with ‘NFC Tags’ or ‘iCarte Reader Mifare’ applications
NFC on iPhone
Gimmick or Killer App?
‘NFC Tags’ App (iCarte):
•Receive contact information
‘NFC Actions’ App (FloJack):
RFID: Radio Frequency Identification http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp5il7yhM4Y http://www.nfcworld.com/2013/07/15/324977/mcdonalds-adds-nfc-games-to-restaurant-tables/ http://www.jogtek.com/nfcesl.html
As an iPhone accessory attaching to the bottom connector of the iPhone, the iCarte turns the iPhone into an NFC phone as well as an RFID Reader / Writer. NFC and RFID tag information can be written and read by the iCarte and communicated to an iPhone. The iCarte also contains an embedded smart element which can be configured as a debit, credit, pre-paid or loyalty card, turning the iPhone into an electronic wallet. The iCarte is ideal for iPhone users who want to use their iPhone for fast and secure contactless payments, transit payments, loyalty rewards, checking balances, top-up, discovering new services from smart posters or kiosks and exchanging information with other NFC phones. Business iPhone users can use the iCarte for commercial applications such as asset tracking, document tracking, healthcare, security and access control.
The bad news: Wireless Dynamics is reportedly asking for $2000 for the iCarte SDK. The iPhone sandbox does not allow easy access to the iPhone settings from an app. So location based phone configuration is not as easily accomplished as it is on Android-based NFC phones.
I am a newcomer to the world of NFC. I am excited by the possibilities, but frustrated by the lack of standardisation. There will never be consumer acceptance until there is a common standard and ubiquity of inexpensive devices to use it. Perhaps there is now a standard for the tags, but the high cost of entry into a device for iPhone means a large % of consumers don't have any NFC capable device. Android's offerings are splintered as well (e.g. Samsung Galaxy S3 uses different solution to the S4). Commonwealth Bank has subsidised the iCarte in the Australian market, but it still costs $50 - and then it needs to be replaced if the customer changes phones, or their phone number. That is never going to be a popular solution. For simple applications, I don't see what the benefit of NFC is over a QR code so perhaps NFC is a solution looking for a problem. What excites me is the potential for an NFC tag to initiate multiple actions on my smartphone. Unfortunately, I have to unlock the phone, open the NFC reading application and initiate the read first, so there's still a tradeoff between cost of use and payback. Then the iPhone sandbox prevents the application from changing lots of settings that would really be useful to change with NFC (e.g. when leaving/arriving at a location).