The new technical specification sets out the short range wireless communication performance requirements for NFC devices and is designed to ensure that any NFC Forum-compliant phone, tablet or other device will work with any other certified device.
The NFC Forum has approved and adopted the NFC Analog Technical Specification, a core document that is designed to make it easier for manufacturers to build phones, tablets and other devices that work in a fully compatible manner with other manufacturers' NFC devices.
"With the new NFC Analog specification we offer the industry a solution that will lead to improved global interoperability between NFC devices," says Koichi Tagawa, chairman of the NFC Forum. "Because it also streamlines testing and certification, it will accelerate the introduction of NFC-enabled devices into the market. We greatly appreciate the efforts of all our members who worked to deliver this milestone specification."
Rather than defining the type or design of antenna that a manufacturer should use in an NFC device, the forum's new specification focuses on ensuring that a device's radio frequency (RF) interface works in a standard manner and meets a minimum level of performance — defining what NFC looks like from outside the device rather than inside it.
"The document specifies the RF characteristics in such a way that interoperability issues arising from the radio link are minimized, providing a basis for testing and approvals that draws upon the experience of related work," says the forum. Performance criteria that devices will have to meet include power requirements, transmission requirements, receiver requirements, and signal forms — including time, frequency and modulation characteristics.
The new specification also "provides a common interface to the NFC chip, thereby giving manufacturers greater flexibility to use NFC chips from different suppliers without putting device interoperability at greater risk," the forum says.
The specification covers:
- All four roles of an NFC device: peer mode initiator, peer mode target, reader/writer mode and card emulation mode
- All three technologies: NFC-A, NFC-B, and NFC-F
- All three bit rates: 106 kbps, 212 kbps, and 424 kbps
The new technical specification does not, however, require device manufacturers to achieve a particular minimum read/write range for NFC devices, the NFC Forum's Jonathan Main has told NFC World.
"NFC devices have a very large range of sizes and specifications," Main explained, and there will be read/write range variations between different manufacturers' devices and different types of device — the read/write range between an NFC-enabled TV and a tablet will, for instance, be greater than that achievable between two, much smaller, mobile phones.
The focus in developing the specification was on "what is actually reliably achievable" rather than on setting a minimum range that all devices must achieve, he added, although "we did aim at a target distance of around a centimetre.
"The real impact of this is on interoperability," Main explained. That said, he added, "you can probably expect over time that devices will get better".
Readers can download the full NFC Analog Technical Specification free of charge from the NFC Forum's website.