The NFC Forum, a non-profit industry association that advances the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, yesterday announced the publication of four technical specifications that further define the modular architecture and interoperability parameters for NFC devices and protocols. The NFC Forum, which made the announcement at Cartes & IDentification in Paris, has now developed and adopted a total of 15 specifications. The specifications are key to the functionality and interoperability of solutions based on NFC technology. All of the specifications are available to the public for download at no charge, from http://www.nfc-forum.org/specs/.
In a separate but related announcement, the NFC Forum formally unveiled its Certification Program. This program, combined with these core technical specifications, clears the way for NFC developers to bring more globally interoperable NFC solutions to market.
The specifications are as follows:
NFC Digital Protocol Technical Specification
First announced as a Candidate Specification, the NFC Digital Protocol Technical Specification addresses the digital protocol for NFC-enabled device communication, providing an implementation specification on top of the ISO/IEC 18092, ISO/IEC 14443 and JIS X 6319-4 standards. It harmonizes the integrated technologies, specifies implementation options and limits the interpretation of the standards; in essence, showing developers how to use ISO/IEC 18092, ISO/IEC 14443 and JIS X6319-4 standards together to ensure global interoperability between different NFC devices, and between NFC devices and existing contactless infrastructure.
The specification defines the common feature set that can be used consistently and without further modification for major NFC applications in areas such as financial services and public transport. The specification covers the digital interface and the half-duplex transmission protocol of the NFC-enabled device in its four roles as Initiator, Target, Reader/Writer and Card Emulator. It includes bit-level coding, bit rates, frame formats, protocols, and command sets, which are used by NFC-enabled devices to exchange data and bind to the LLCP protocol.
NFC Activity Technical Specification
Formerly a Candidate Specification, the NFC Activity Technical Specification describes the building blocks, called Activities, for setting up the communication protocol between NFC devices or an NFC device and an NFC tag. These Activities can be used as defined in this specification and can be modified to define other ways of setting up the communication protocol for different use cases.
Activities are combined in Profiles. Each Profile has specific Configuration Parameters and covers a particular use case. This specification defines Profiles polling for an NFC device and establishment of Peer to Peer communication, polling for and reading NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) data from an NFC tag, and polling for an NFC tag or NFC device in combination. While the combination of Activities and Profiles defines a predictable behavior for an NFC device, it does not limit the ability of NFC devices to implement other building blocks or define other Profiles for other use cases on top of the existing ones.
NFC Forum Type 4 Tag Operation Specification, Version 2.0
The NFC Forum has mandated four tag types to be operable with NFC devices, forming the backbone of interoperability between different NFC tags and devices to ensure a consistent user experience. This specification, which is an update from Version 1.0, provides the technical information needed to implement the reader/writer and associated control functionality of an NFC device to interact with the Type 4 Tag, which is fully compatible with the ISO/IEC 14443 standard. Version 2.0 of the specification updates the parameter values and usage of Select Commands. It also adds coexistence of Type 4 Tag Version 1.0 and Version 2.0, consistently aligning defined terms.
Tags are pre-configured at manufacture to be either read and rewritable, or read-only. The memory availability is variable, up to 32 KBytes per service; the communication interface is either Type A or Type B compliant.
The NFC Forum Type 4 Tag Version 2.0 has been updated to be compliant with the latest edition of the ISO standards (in particular ISO/IEC 7816-4 2nd Edition).
Signature Record Type Definition (RTD) Technical Specification
Formerly a Candidate Specification, the Signature RTD Technical Specification defines the format used when signing single or multiple NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) records. It provides a list of suitable signature algorithms and certificate types that can be used to create the signature. Signature RTD can be used to protect the integrity of NDEF messages (e.g., as stored in tags) by signing it with cryptographic keys.
"While work on NFC Forum specifications continues, the publication of these four technical specifications is a major achievement and signifies that we are reaching our goal of supporting core functionality," said Koichi Tagawa, chairman of the NFC Forum. "Their release coincides with the launch of our NFC Forum Certification Program, and together they give device manufacturers a solid basis to certify their products, and to begin testing for interoperability at NFC Forum PlugFest events. All of us at the NFC Forum would like to express our appreciation to the NFC Forum member companies for their hard work on these specifications."
Specifications still under development include the RF analog specification and also higher-level protocols and applications such as the Simple NDEF Exchange Protocol (SNEP) specification and the NFC Controller Interface (NCI) specification.
Additional information on NFC Forum specifications can be found at http://www.nfc-forum.org/specs/.
About Near Field Communication Technology
NFC technology makes life easier and more convenient for consumers around the world by making it simpler to make transactions, exchange digital content, and connect electronic devices with a touch.
A standards-based connectivity technology, NFC harmonizes today's diverse contactless technologies, enabling current and future solutions in areas such as access control, consumer electronics, healthcare, information collection and exchange, loyalty and coupons, payments, and transport.
NFC technology is supported by the world’s leading communication device manufacturers, semiconductor producers, network operators, IT and services companies, and financial services organizations. NFC is compatible with hundreds of millions of contactless cards and readers already deployed worldwide.