Mobile devices are increasingly becoming the ticket to a connected world for
millions of people around the globe. Last year, the number of mobile devices
overtook the number of people on earth and by 2017 there will be 10 billion
mobile devices – 31% more than the projected world population,
according to research commissioned by Cisco Systems.
Today, we primarily use mobile phones to connect with social media, stay in
contact with friends and family, manage bank accounts, find news and views
online and enjoy a myriad of other reasonably un-sophisticated functions.
However, the rapidly growing availability of Near Field Communication (NFC)
enabled consumables – it has been predicted by ReporternReports that
the global NFC market is anticipated to reach US $16.25 billion by 2022,
growing at 8.83 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) – is set to
revolutionize the way we use and view our mobile devices.
Soon, consumers will be able to control household appliances, monitor
household energy usage, open car doors, order replacement parts and take home
entertainment to a whole new level as NFC enabled consumables make the
Internet of Things (IoT) a reality. Our mobile device will increasingly become
the ‘remote control for our lives’ – and we will become
reliant on our phones for far more than primarily human contact.
NFC is an amazing technology that allows a powered device (the
‘reader’, for example your smartphone) to read information from
or write information to another device (the ‘tag’). The
potential applications for NFC are endless and the benefits are many and
varied – NFC is easy to use, allows consumers to use a familiar device
to control everything in one place, is free of unnecessary wires, disks and
bulky hardware, has high security and privacy levels, is low cost and boasts
high energy efficiency.
In a world where energy efficiency is key, power consumption is an important
consideration – as is affordability. With NFC, energy harvested from
the field of the reader powers the tag, enabling connectivity for Internet of
Things devices without using batteries or power. This energy harvesting
feature enables a number of low-power and low-cost applications, in turn
reducing the cost of materials and driving affordability for consumers.
Security and privacy are also key considerations for consumers. Almost every
week we read high-profile hacking stories in the news—most recently
Heart bleed and eBay’s critical data breach. It is no surprise that we
are concerned for the safety of our data. As we become more reliant on mobile
devices we need to be aware of security issues and feel confident in the
technology we use.
NFC is specifically engineered to maximise security and privacy. By design,
NFC has a limited field of operation, which prevents data snooping that could
occur from a distance. It also requires intent—the application of a
specific NFC-enabled device to a specific NFC-enabled object in order to read
its memory. This approach contrasts with protocols such as WiFi, which
broadcasts information regardless of intent. NFC’s limited field, plus
other features of the protocol, helps to ensure that data exchange only occurs
with the intended party.
As organisations around the world become more aware of the benefits NFC
provides and adopt this emerging technology to enrich the consumer experience,
NFC will revolutionize our use as consumers of mobile devices – driving
an easier, more integrated and connected lifestyle for all of us.