At NXP, our development teams spend a lot of time thinking about what we, as human beings, do in a
day—and why. We look at what it takes to get through an average 24 hours and consider how
we might do those things better. It’s a way of seeing the world, asking questions and
thinking about the unexpected. It challenges us to re-examine what’s familiar, develop new
approaches and deliver innovation.
At the same time though, we keep in mind just how difficult it can be to modify what’s
familiar. Changing the way we do everyday things can be hard. It can be uncomfortable, unsettling
and require an unwelcome adjustment. The best changes, we think, are easy to adopt. Well-designed
changes bring convenience and simplicity while improving how we move through the world. Before we
know it, these new ways of doing things are indispensable. They have become, as we call it, the
One NXP innovation that has created a long list of new normals is
MIFARE®. Working behind the scenes and without a lot of fanfare, MIFARE ICs have
achieved remarkable longevity with 25 years of positive innovation to their credit.
The First New Normal: Transport
The story begins in the early 1990’s, when three NXP engineers, working in one of our
offices in Austria, performed a bit of magic and created what is now known as MIFARE. Their goal
was to improve the way we pay to use public transport. Instead of putting a coin or token or paper
ticket into a machine that was prone to jamming, all you had to do was take your contactless
ticket (with a MIFARE product inside), tap the ticket to a reader and be on your way.
In 1994 the first MIFARE chip was introduced to the public, and just two years later the
contactless revolution in transport ticketing began to gather momentum in Seoul, South Korea,
where bus and rail commuters began using contactless fare cards. Rush hour became a little more
manageable with less waiting in line and less frustration over mechanical malfunctions.
Since then, contactless ticketing has taken off. Today, major cities around the world use MIFARE
for transit systems and MIFARE has become the new normal in public transport.
The Ongoing Revolution
As it turned out, transport ticketing was just the beginning for MIFARE and the new normal. Since
those early days in Seoul, MIFARE has never really slowed down. The tap-and-go convenience of
MIFARE has found its way into more than 40 application types, creating new normals in a remarkably
broad category of use cases.
Consider, for example, some of the ways that MIFARE chips, in all their form factors, have entered
our lives. Hotels and resorts have retired their cumbersome metal keys, and now give guests a
sleek, MIFARE product-based key card that slips easily into a wallet or purse while providing
quick access to rooms, spas and other exclusive areas. Concerts, sporting events and music
festivals run more smoothly and efficiently, with attendees using MIFARE equipped cards or tickets
to enter venues and pay for snacks and souvenirs without waiting in long lines or hassling with
cash. Facilities managers use MIFARE ICs in badges and wearables to let employees identify
themselves and enter meeting rooms, while retailers issue MIFARE product-based cards that make it
easier for everyone to make purchases and earn loyalty points. Even universities, colleges and
other educational facilities are putting MIFARE to work, using it in student IDs that give
learners access to classrooms and let them pay for meals while on campus.
Add it all up, and more than 1.2 billion people in over 750 cities worldwide use MIFARE on a daily
basis. Every day there’s someone, somewhere, using MIFARE, whether it’s in a smart
card, a smartphone, a wristband or some other portable or wearable item.
What’s next for MIFARE? Cloud-based smart city services. The digital version of MIFARE,
MIFARE 2GO, puts digital MIFARE product-based credentials onto mobile and wearable devices. With MIFARE
2GO, queuing up at a vending machine becomes a thing of the past since now you can easily access
smart city services, including transport ticketing, with just about any device, be it a
smartphone, a smart watch or whatever comes next.
As another way to help smart cities deploy trusted contactless services, we recently introduced a
lightweight version of our successful MIFARE DESFire family, called
MIFARE DESFire Light, that incorporates high-security standards while also enabling mobile interactions for everyone
using Android and iOS operating systems that support NFC.
We’ve also launched the
MIFARE Hospitality IC, a tailored solution that enables quick integration into RFID key cards, so you can conveniently
enter your hotel room or log on to Wi-Fi with a simple tap of your card with a mobile phone.
Further guest services are just a tap away with quick redirects to the hotel brand’s
loyalty program or special offers.
With MIFARE, what started as a single IC has grown into a suite of solutions, supported by a
global ecosystem that enables advanced cloud connectivity and secure, multi-application service
offerings. Yet MIFARE products remain at the forefront of privacy and protection, with
exceptional security features that help our customers create future-proof contactless systems
and, at the same time, let operators stay in charge of their systems—so you, as a business
owner, retain full control over your data, your keys and your clients.
A Year-long Celebration
To mark the many achievements of the MIFARE brand, and the many new normals it has created, we
developed a year-long campaign called “Celebrating 25 years of inventing THE NEW
NORMAL.” You’ll see references to the campaign throughout 2019, with postings of our
25th anniversary MIFARE logo online and in print.
Our campaign honors the clear-minded inspiration of dedicated engineers and serves as a big
“Thank You” to all our partners and customers who, for more than two decades, have
put their faith in MIFARE. Perhaps most important of all, though, this campaign is a way to pause
and gather energy, in preparation for the next generation of new normals that MIFARE will create.
The NXP MIFARE Team