Pre-production test runs of its SideTap microSD format NFC solution have now been successfully completed, says Tyfone, and volume production will begin during the second half of this year.
MicroSD-based NFC solution provider Tyfone says it has now successfully completed the last tests needed before being able to put its SideTap NFC technology into production and the first units will be commercially available in volume from the second half of 2010.
SideTap MicroSD cards contains a built-in antenna and an onboard controller that manages over-the-air (OTA) capabilities, enabling additional payments, ticketing and other services to be added to the card in the field.
All the NFC functionality in the SideTap cards fits into just one small corner of the microSD card, enabling the device to include standard memory expansion functionality as well as NFC. In fact, the antenna itself takes up less than 1% of the surface area of the microSD card, Dr Siva Narendra, Tyfone's chief technology officer, told NFC World.
The first SideTap cards to go into production will have a memory capacity of 1GB and will be available to order in "100,000's this year, with a target volume in the millions next year," says Narendra.
An entry level version, the SideTap lite, will also be available. This will come without additional memory capacity or over-the-air provisioning capability and is designed for single issuer applications, such as a straight replacement for a bank card or transit card. Larger memory capacity cards are also expected to become available from 2011.
While the smaller size of the antenna means SideTap has a shorter read distance of just one to three centimetres, it has a significant advantage in terms of transaction speed. SideTap is able to process transactions at exactly the same speed as if they were running on a plastic card, Narendra told NFC World. For most applications, that means a transaction speed of under 400ms and, for Mifare ticketing applications, transactions take only 100ms.
In terms of pricing, the bulk of the expense lies in the cost of the memory, says Narendra, and the total cost of a SideTap card is expected to be similar to the combined cost of a standard microSD card of the chosen memory capacity plus the cost of a contactless bank card.
Since mid-2009, Tyfone's u4ia platform has been powering OnPoint Community Credit Union's mobile banking service and, in September 2009, Tyfone was granted a key patent covering electronic transaction cards.