Inside NCI 2.0 and What It Means for the New Generation of NFC Devices, Part 2

NFC Forum: Inside NCI 2.0 and What It Means for the New Generation of NFC Devices, Part 2A guest blog by Jürgen Böhler, vice-chair of the NFC Forum Technical Committee 

In this, the second of two blog posts (read Part 1 here) on the new NCI 2.0 candidate specification, we’ll take a closer look at more new features that benefit both NFC developers and device users:

RF Interface Extension

The RF Interface Extension is a new concept introduced in NCI 2.0 that optimizes and accelerates the communication between the NFC controller and the application processor within an NFC device. It is currently used for two purposes:

  • It activates the autonomous exchange of Symmetry Protocol Data Units (PDUs) to maintain an ongoing LLCP link without generating additional communication on NCI between the NFC controller and the Device Host. This avoids unnecessary interruptions of a running peer-to-peer application on the Device Host, thereby helping to improve overall performance. In practice, that means reduced overhead to manage the peer-to-peer communication between two NFC-enabled mobile devices (e.g., while exchanging business contacts), which optimizes the overall performance in transferring the exchanged data.
  • It activates the aggregated mode for communication with NFC Forum tags. Doing so allows a batch of RF commands to be transferred within a single NCI message. This avoids time-consuming task switches at the Device Host, helping to improve performance when an NFC device communicates with NFC Forum tags, such as when reading an NFC smart poster containing an Internet link.

NDEF RF Interface

This RF Interface targets a completely new NFC-enabled device market. We are now beginning to see embedded devices emerging that use NFC for specific purposes. For example, there are now washing machines that can read NFC tags to quickly adjust the washing program for a specific type of clothing. Most of these devices do not have a rich operating system with a complete NFC stack installed. If manufacturers of these devices had to implement the routines to access NFC tags, it could negatively affect their time to market. For these device manufacturers, NCI 2.0 now offers an RF Interface that already implements these routines inside the NFC Controller, thereby easing the integration of NFC into these devices.

What does it all mean to the NFC ecosystem? For developers, it means more targeted capabilities and functionality to suit specific use cases. For companies considering adoption of NFC, it means greater confidence that the NFC Forum is responding to real-world needs. For NFC users, it means a swift and sure NFC experience that they don’t have to think about at all.

Jürgen Böhler is vice-chair of the NFC Forum Technical Committee. He can be reached at juergen.boehler@st.com.

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