The two companies will offer handset manufacturers a combined NFC handset hardware and software solution, making it quicker and easier to integrate NFC into their mobile devices.
STMicroelectronics and Stollmann have signed an agreement that will see the two companies offering turnkey NFC interface solutions, complete with all the necessary hardware and software components, to manufacturers of handsets and mobile consumer devices.
The deal will see ST’s ST21NFCA controller chip being offered as a combined package with Stollmann’s NFC protocol stack software, enabling handset suppliers to build standards-compliant NFC functionality into their range of mobile devices more quickly and easily.
Stollmann’s NFCStack+ acts as a complete middleware solution for cell phones, embedded products and other platforms. Its role is to handle communications between the NFC controller chip embedded in a mobile device and the main baseband chipset, which is responsible for handling all the device’s usual mobile communications functions.
The software stack has been designed to be ported easily to different devices, different platforms (such as Symbian or Windows Mobile) and different NFC controller chips, such as NXP’s PN544 or ST’s ST21NFCA, so that a handset manufacturer could use the same calls in all its handsets, regardless of which NFC chip or which mobile phone operating system each device uses.
An extension to the software, NFCStack+JSR257, means that NFC devices built using the Stollmann protocol stack are also compatible with the JSR-257 Contactless Communications API. This means that a mobile application developer wanting to build an NFC application can do so with ease, using Java ME — the standard programming language for most mobile phone applications.
“It’s relatively easy to put a reader into a phone,” Christian Luhrs, managing director of Stollmann, told NFCW. “It is not so easy to do it so it conforms to international standards across multiple devices and multiple platforms. We know how to make portable protocol stacks that conform to standards. So, if you want to build an NFC phone, with the NFCStack+ you get a shorter time to market and a high degree of flexibility across a range of devices using different chipsets and different operating systems.”
Under the new deal with STMicroelectronics, Stollmann is adapting the NFCStack+ for the ST21NFCA so that it can handle both the ST chip’s standard NFC functions and its extended functions, allowing communication with all the popular contactless cards and RFID tags and full support for the Single Wire Protocol (SWP). The two companies will also work together to present the combined interface solution to device manufacturers.
The agreement with ST is the latest in a number of deals Stollmann has struck in recent months:
- In December 2008, Panasonic Electronic Devices Europe signed up with Stollmann as its software partner for current and future Panasonic NFC hardware solutions such as the PAN6460 compact NFC module.
- In March, Stollmann signed a deal with secure operating systems specialist Green Hills Software. The deal has enabled Green Hills to add support for NFC-enabled devices to its Integrity real-time operating system (RTOS).
- In April, Stollmann and Mobile Distillery signed a cooperation agreement designed to enable the two companies to pool their research and development efforts with the aim of enabling any NFC application to be ported with maximum reliability and minimum effort across a wide range of devices. The agreement will see NFC functionality added to Mobile Distillery’s established Celsius platform, which is used by mobile application developers to quickly and easily port their applications to any of over 1,000 different mobile devices.
- In July, Stollmann signed a product development and joint marketing agreement with Toppan Forms that will see Toppan acting as a sales agent for the NFCStack+ in Japan. Toppan aims to become a total NFC solution provider in Japan, working with Japanese companies looking to move away from the current proprietary mobile payments solutions and towards internationally interoperable NFC standard solutions.
“Stollmann is very well known for its expertise in the development of connectivity software,” says Laurent Degauque, telecom and NFC marketing manager at STMicroelectronics’ Digital Secure Access division. “This is an important cooperation that will allow ST’s customers to benefit from a complete and ready-to-use NFC solution that complies with all relevant standards.”
“The combined strength of ST, with its leadership in contactless chips, and Stollmann, a leading protocol stack supplier, should mean that we see NFC handsets and other mobile devices in the hands of providers and consumers very quickly,” added Luhrs.