Tag: NFC

Smartphone payments soar

HTC smartphoneIndustry analyst company Gartner said it believed that by 2018 half of the population in Japan, the USA and some Western European countries will use smartphones or wearables to pay for their stuff.

The development of apps, devices and mobile services are changing traditional models, according to principal research analyst Amanda Sabia.

“Product managers must understand who their customers are for these new devices and services, and how the products are being used. Knowing your customer is imperative in order to capture a fair share of spending opportunities in this dynamic marketplace,” she said.

She said there are three types of mobile payments – by smartphones, by branded mobile wallets and mobile vendors from High Street shops like Starbucks.

But mobile payments using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology will be limited because theres a lack of agreement between shops and financial organisations.

Sabia also said that by 2018, in mature markets, 75 percent of TV content will be watched through application based services, rather than using pay TV models

Smartwatch sales bigged up

Apple watchSales of smart watches worldwide are predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 152 percent between now and 2019/

That’s according to a report from Technavio, which predicts increased penetration of smartphones, high speed broadband and other technical breakthroughs let people use a number of different services including near field communication (NFC).

Faisal Ghaus, a VP of Technavio and who wrote the report predicted the demand for smartwatches is very likely to grow.

He said Apple and Google are testing screen consoles to give people better touch for smartwatches.

The major players in the display side of smartwatches are Futaba, Japan Display, LG Electronics, Samsung and Sharp.

Ghaus said there is demand for both rigid and flexible displays.

Smart wine bottles launched

Smart wine bottleA Norwegian company said it has created a “smart” wine bottle, which knows where it is and where it’s going at any given moment.

Thinfilm said it will show off the bottle, which uses printed electronics technology the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai.

The printed electronics on the tag include NFC tags and is aimed at battling the trade in counterfeit wines.

According to Thinfilm, counterfeit wine is particularly prevalent in mainland China – it believes 50 to 70 percent of all wine sold there is counterfeit.

Thinfilm is collaborating with a Western Australian wine company, Fengrove, to create a live field trial. Thinfilm said that the electronics on the wine bottle will allow it to be tracked from vineyards direct to peoples’ tables.

The NFC Opensense tags that Thinfilm has created can detect whether a product is sealed or opened and can be tracked using an NFC smartphone or device. The tags have unique identifiers making it easy to track products using software and analytics tools.

Nearly everyone’s going to work from home

US Army - Wikimedia CommonsIDC released a forecast which estimated that by 202 nearly three quarters of people with jobs in the United States will be mobile workers.

Right now, there are 96.2 million mobile workers in the USA, but that figure is set to rise to 105.4 million by 2020.

A whole heap of things are accelerating the trend including cheaper smartphones and tablets, the acceptance by employers of bring your own devices (BYOD), biometric readers, voice control, near field communications (NFC) and augmented reality.

IDC said 69.1 percent of the enterprises it surveyed saw a reduction in costs through implementing BYOD programmes.

Healthcare workers are the biggest segment of the mobile workforce, followed by manufacturing and construction. In fact, non office based mobile workers make up two thirds of the total mobile worker population.

Bryan Bassett, a research analyst at IDC said that mobility has become synonymous with productivity both inside and outside the workplace.

Mobile payments set to bloom

ContactlessApple Pay appears to have spurred the company’s competitors to get in on the mobile payment act and a report today said that global shipments of moble phones using near field communications (NFC) totalled 400 million units last year.

That, according to research company Topology, is about 20 percent of total shipments worldwide last year.

Topology predicts that this year that figure will rise to 30 percent this year but the story isn’t over yet. Analysts think the percentage will amount to 60 percent of 1.2 billion units in 2018.

However, there is one challenge vendors have to face, and that’s security.

Ariel Chen, Topology semiconductor analyst, said that trading money over mobile phones needs “very high” security standards and hardware here is better than software.

Chen claims that criminals can use their own iPhones to make payments with card information they’ve stolen.

The answer to this is semiconductor manufacturers working closely with banks and better verification for customers.

Apple Watch taken apart

WatchABI Research has taken apart an Apple Watch but said it was a difficult job.

The firm said the design is based on a custom Apple microprocessor – the APL 0778 – but also includes components from Broadcom, NXP, AMS, IDT, Elpida, Sanddisk and some ADI capacitive components.

Jim Mielke, VP of engineering at ABI, said the design is very different from Apple smartphones and includes chips that you just wouldn’t find in an ordinary watch.

“Judging by the complexity of the printed circuit board (PCB) and the number of parts on the PCB, one might think the Apple watch is a full fledged cellular connected watch but in fact connectivity is limited to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC,” he said.

The touch controllers from ADI and that’s a change for the company which hasn’t been very active in wins for mobile devices over the last three to five years, he added.

ABI has published a photograph which shows the PCB of an Apple Watch.Photo courtesy of ABI Research

Startup offers 3D printed objects with embedded NFC

A US startup is offering a rather interesting new service. Miami-based Flomio has come up with 3D printed objects with embedded NFC tags, starting at $8 per item.

The outfit allows clients to use standard ‘.stl’ 3D files, with an NFC tag of their choice embedded inside. The only requirement is rather obvious – the printables cannot be smaller than the NFC tag itself. Models up to 15x15x15cm can be produced at a cost of $0.50 per cubic centimeter, along with a $4 handling fee and the cost of an NFC tag.

“We have developed a process by which we embed the tag within the object,” Richard Grundy, co-founder and CEO of Flomio, told NFC World. “This is different from simply attaching a sticker tag to the bottom that anyone can remove.”

Grundy said the company already made NFC 3D printables for Plow Games, a gaming company that creates marketing campaigns for brands like Audi, Klondike and Hammermill.

Plow Games is already working with several clients and showing off the new technology. Plow Games executive Greg Phillips said the company is very excited about using NFC technology, as it could find a wide range of applications.

“This will allow us to create a secure and truly integrated experience for rewards programs, product branding, and interactive experiences,” he said.

NFC has been slow to take off, as the technology was not embraced by a number of big players in the mobile industry. Flomio saw this as an opportunity and it recently raised $96,000 via Kickstarter to produce an NFC add-on for the iPhone. 

NFC payments rolled out for London buses

London bus passengers will be able to pay for journeys with the swipe of an NFC-enabled debit card, with Transport for London rolling out the contactless payment scheme from today.

The use of debit, credit or charge cards to pay fares could mean less reliance on the Oyster cards which are typically used on London’s 8,500 buses.

The system will mean that passengers paying without an Oyster card will pay the lower fare of £1.35, rather than the cash payment of £2.30.

Apparently 85,000 journeys each day in the capital are paid for in cash, with at least 500 people being turned away for paying with a high denomination note, TfL said. There are also 36,000 people who have insufficient funds on their Oyster card to pay for a journey, making life easier for those who have forgotten to top up their balance.

TfL said that it is looking to extend the service to other parts of the public transport network, with contact payments enabled across the London Underground, DLR, London Overground and trams by late 2013. Daily and weekly capping will also be brought in at this stage too.Talks are  underway to allow the use of NFC payments through the national rail network.

London mayor Boris Johnson welcomed the news: “Lots of us have had the frustrating experience of dashing to board a bus only to discover that our Oyster card has run out of credit. 

“So the arrival of this latest technology is welcome news, meaning that with a simple touch of acontactless payment card, people can avoid having to scrabble for change and also still benefit from the Oyster fare discount.”

He added: “This is the latest in a range of ways we are working to make passenger journeys even easier and more convenient.”

Although TfL has not specified that NFC-enabled smartphones will be supported, it is likely that bus passengers will be able to pay with a flash of their mobile too.

Just how confident passengers will be to brandish their expensive smartphone when taking a perilous night bus is up for debate.  

A TfL spokesperson told TechEye that during this first phase, there will not be a daily ‘cap’ on spending, as with the Oyster card, although when NFC is rolled out to the other transport networks, a daily and weekly cap will be introduced. The idea for now is not to replace the Oyster Card, but to provide a cheaper alternative than physical cash if the card has run out, or you are caught without change.

As for fraud claims, this will be handled by card providers.

If a ticket inspector boards the bus, he or she will get a print out from the bus driver that displays the last four digits of every card used for contactless payments, which can then be verified.

Visa, Vodafone the latest to feverishly promote NFC

Near Field Communication, or NFC technology, is well and truly being foisted upon the paying public. Whether they like it or not, the ultra-convenience of waving your smartphone to buy has been picked up by Barclays, and now, Visa.

Mobile carrier giant Vodafone has signed on the dotted line with Visa so that it can use Visa payWave. The feature, which acts as a mobile wallet, will be available from Spring. Users terrified of the security implications might be reassured that, for purchases over £15, the customer will be prompted to tap in a pin code.

The world has been told by Vodafone chief exec Vittorio Calao that NFC payments will be “the next stage of the smartphone revolution”, reports the Press Association

Although most devices on the market right now are not equipped with NFC, it has long been tipped as the next big thing. NFC payments will offer an easier way for customers to spend their hard-earned, in much the same way as the London Underground has Oyster Card readers.

Is the world ready for – or does it want – Near Field Communication for mobile payments in phones? Manufacturers, carriers and credit card companies will, no doubt, be rubbing their palms together over the prospects of profits. In the end, it doesn’t matter what Joe Public thinks – NFC is going to be on tonnes of phones, soon. Barclays has already detailed its own service and we can expect more to come.

According to Catherine Haslam, an analyst at industry-watchers Ovum, NFC and payments really are a “chicken and an egg situation”. Mobile payments are seen by device manufacturers, says Haslam, as the catalyst for the consumer to buy new devices, while service providers see the devices as a catalyst for service take-up.

“The third point of impetus could come from retailers and others with control over PoS equipment such as transport service providers,” says Haslam. “Just like the deployment of chip and PIN bank cards, NFC is likely to be supply rather than demand driven. Given that NFC is becoming commonplace in new mobile handsets and replacement and upgrade cycles are shortening, if enough NFC equipment is installed then services will start to be used.”

Visa has been active in promoting subsidising upgrading PoS equipment, according to Haslam, so there is some momentum. “However, in general, global terms,” she says, “because the benefit in speed is marginal and is not really recognised by consumers, the majority of retailers are slow adopters.”

If deployments are going to be worth it on a wide scale for retailers, Haslam says retailers will need to find service value beyond the convenience and speed that NFC provides. “This could either be for themselves in terms of greater loyalty and customer information, or for the consumer in better deals and service,” she suggests. “Increased security is one possible option but the one Visa and others are talking to retailers about is combining the payment and loyalty card functions to offer more targeted special offers to specific customers, to further increase loyalty and the value of each visit to a store.”

Speed of use will be worthwhile in some situations, for example, on transport or the London Olympics, where processing people as quick as possible does offer significant benefits. “However, this is usually being done with specialist cards such as Oyster in London rather than via mobile phone, as ubiquity and scale are essential,” Haslam says. “The exceptions as usual are in Japan, where NFC-enabled mobile phones have been used for some years, and Korea where they are also being used successfully in transport and other services.”

Though the consumer liked to use NFC in tests, carriers will need to work hard to generate interest. Haslam says that in France, which she says is the home of the smart card, there are already deployments and Visa has been working closely with Telefonica on trials. “People liked it when they used it, but had no real interest in trying it for the first time,” Haslam said. “Therefore, the marketing of services and some form of promotion that enables consumers to try services will be necessary.”

From NFC to artificial brains: Future Horizons' future of chips

As well as looking at the state of the chip industry, IFS2012 saw Future Horizons give some predictions into the application of semiconductors over the coming years.

Starting with what the coming year is likely to have in store, CTO Mike Bryant gave his predictions stretching out into the almost unknown, twenty-odd years hence.

It is expected that Apple will finally get to stick some NFC chips into the iPhoneSamsung is also expected to push the technology this year, according to some IFS attendees.

As expected, Ultrabooks will pervade into mainstream consciousness, though, as Bryant points out, most will want until a generation running on Windows 8 appears later in the year before splashing out.  Windows on ARM is not expected to have much effect, though we imagine will grab headlines when released.

The TV market will carry on pushing 3D and, following the CES show-stealing, smart TVs will see a boost. Whether manufacturers will be able to meet the struggle for profits this year is another question though.  Apple TV rumours were also fuelled, adding to expectations that even larger needless shiny rectangles will make it into our lives by the end of the year.

Just as TechEye has been saying semiconductors will also make an assault on classrooms, with government backing products such as the RaspberryPi to promote computing and programming for a new generation.

Longer term, Bryant gave his predictions on the further evolution of the semi industry, with Intel leading the way with 15nm Trigate development, and larger production beginning possibly the year after.  450mm wafers will begin testing at its Albany site, with low scale production the following year.

Meanwhile TSMC and GloFo will fire up 20nm planar chip development, though whether more advanced process difficulties will be seen is unknown.

ARM’s global takeover, according to its bosses at least, will also begin with the big.LITTLE concept appearing  in its A15/A7 chip combination.

4G should finally arrive in the airwaves of Blighty in 2013 too, some years after others got their hands on it. Though it could be a while still before many people actually get to use it.

2014 should see some exciting developments with production of memristor technology, while 2015 could bring about Intel fiddling around with 11nm process Trigate chips.

By 2016 the LED lighting market should finally move into people’s lives, overcoming current cost issues with larger production levels cutting price, leading to a $30 billion industry by the end of the decade.   Work into self-powering devices should become mainstream this year too, beginning to open up the almost frightening possibilities of the Internet of Things.

Jumping to 2018 Intel will be producing 11nm chips in large scale as Moore’s Law begins to hit a slowdown to a three year cycle. Large scale 15nm production on 450mm wafers should see massive amounts of chips churned aiding to the ubiquity of semiconductors in our lives.

By this point it is entirely possible, Bryant says, that graphene circuits could be rivalling silicon with large scale production of chips based on the material.

Towards the end of the decade 5nm process devices could be demonstrated, with a convergence of memory and logic technologies allowing for the development of artificial brains.

From here on out the roadmap blurs into science fiction, but in the next ten to fifteen years work into 3nm processes should push Moore’s Law to its absolute limits, while we could finally be buying examples of the next step: quantum computing.

Implantable mobile phones will mean that it is truly impossible to be uncontactable, 24/7 telehealth monitoring could allow people to put their life in the hands of NHS IT staff, and quasi-intelligent robots will FINALLY begin to become available.

As for hoverboards though, it appears we will have to wait for IFS2013 at least before we find out.