A new family of “dynamic NFC tag” memories from STMicroelectronics is set to make a vast range of consumer devices, domestic appliances and industrial equipment alot smarter, more flexible and easier. These memories will make it easier to add Near Field Communications (NFC) capability to any kind of electrical device, from loudspeakers and printers, to cookers and washing machines, to electricity, gas and water meters.
At present NFC is mostly recognised by consumers as a way to make contactless purchases with smartphones, but soon it will contribute to connecting objects to the “Internet of Things”, which will change the way consumers interact with those connected things. Although NFC capability is standard in many new smartphones and tablets, according to ST, the time is coming for NFC connectivity in many other kinds of electrical or electronic devices.
ST’s new M24SR family of “dynamic NFC tag” memories allow any device, including printers, fitness watches, microwave ovens, smart electricity meters or digital cameras to feature built-in NFC connectivity, allowing a device to communicate with a smartphone that almost touches it.
“The key benefit of embedding NFC capability into almost any kind of equipment or device is that the device can then be designed to offer all the features that would be possible if they had keyboards, graphic displays and Internet connections, without actually having to incorporate these expensive and space-consuming features into the equipment itself; the user’s smartphone already has them and can ‘lend’ them,” says Benoit Rodrigues, General Manager, STMicroelectronics Memories Division.
One of the potential benefits enabled by the M24SR family is convenient Bluetooth pairing of a smartphone and an audio device. Instead of having to open the phone’s settings, turn Bluetooth on, select the audio device code name and sometimes enter a pass code, users can simply wave their smartphone by the NFC-enabled audio device, and automatically activate Bluetooth pairing between the two devices as settings have been transmitted over NFC.
Other examples include resetting the clock on any appliance after a power blackout or a change in daylight saving hours, or rapid diagnosis of faults in malfunctioning equipment. Instead of having to look for the instruction manual or call the manufacturer’s customer service, the user could simply run the “Reset my appliance clock” or “Diagnose Problem” app on their smartphone, touch the equipment with the smartphone, and the clock would be automatically reset or the problem remotely diagnosed through the connection to the manufacturer’s website.