NFC Forum to Update its Specification to Enable New NFC Services

The NFC Forum has published four new specifications which are now waiting approval by the NFC Board of Directors. The updated specifications enhance the device pairing and healthcare functionality of NFC services as well as optimize their performance. The NFC Forum is the world’s leading standards and advocacy association for Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

The Connection Handover Technical Specification 1.4 allows users to define additional specific services when two devices are paired together using other wireless communication technologies, such as Bluetooth or WLAN by a tap of an NFC-enabled device. The Personal Health Device Communication (PHDC) Technical Specification 1.2 defines the exchange of ISO/IEEE 11073 messages often used for personal healthcare devices such as heart, blood pressure and glucose monitors. Also, updates were made to the NFC Digital Protocol Technical Specification 2.1 and NFC Controller Interface (NCI) Technical Specification 2.1. According to the Forum, the Connection Handover 1.4 and PHDC 1.2 specifications create an opportunity for solution providers to innovate and develop new NFC-enabled products in the consumer and healthcare markets.

Connection Handover Technical Specification 1.4 for Device Pairing Adopted

Connection Handover Technical Specification 1.4 defines the structure and sequence of interactions that enable two NFC devices to establish a connection using other wireless communication technologies, such as Bluetooth or WLAN. This specification makes it possible for solutions providers to deploy applications that combine the simple, one-touch set-up of NFC with the high-speed communication of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Connection handover also supports static handover, in which the connection handover information is stored on an NFC tag.

The Connection Handover Version 1.4 also adds the capability for an NFC device to communicate the availability of, or seek, specific services to use on alternate carriers. This capability makes it easier for the user to launch a specific service on an alternate carrier such as when an NFC phone taps a printer, the phone knows in advance what print methods that printer supports, and can prepare based on this information the optimum service to print with. Another use case is when a user of an NFC phone has the choice of either displaying a photo from the phone on the larger screen of a tablet or storing that photo file on the tablet. After making the selection, the user taps the tablet with the phone to transfer the photo via WLAN or Bluetooth and the selected action is performed with no additional action required.

The Personal Health Device Communication Technical Specification Version 1.2 Adopted

PHDC Technical Specification Version 1.2 defines the exchange of ISO/IEEE 11073 messages as they are often used for personal health devices. Its implementation enables healthcare devices such as NFC-enabled blood pressure monitors, heart monitors, weighing scales and glucose meters to transmit health data easily via NFC technology for monitoring by nurses, physicians, doctors and for home care use. With PHDC 1.2, no alternate carrier is needed as all the information is transferred via NFC and no additional communication channel is needed.

Health monitoring devices are advocated by healthcare providers as a way to manage chronic health conditions and reduce healthcare costs. NFC technology supports these use cases by making communication between health devices and NFC-enabled phones fast, easy and intuitive. The earlier version of this specification described communication mechanisms for personal health devices based on the NFC Forum Type 2, 3 and 4 Tag protocols. PHDC version 1.2 adds the communications mechanism for NFC Forum Type 5 Tag protocol broadening the implementation choices for service providers of future NFC-enabled Personal Health Devices.

Digital Protocol Technical Specification 2.1 and NCI Technical Specification 2.1 Adopted

Digital Protocol Technical Specification 2.1 defines the digital part of the RF protocol used by NFC devices. Support for larger RF frames for the contactless ISO-DEP protocol compliant with ISO/IEC 14443 was added to optimize the overall transaction time for ISO-DEP.

NCI Technical Specification 2.1 defines a standard interface within an NFC device between an NFC Controller and the device's main application processor. This recent update to version 2.1 includes optimizations to improve performance.