Inside Contactless makes it easier to add NFC to mobile handsets

The NFC specialist is making its NFC protocol stack available via an Apache open source license, in a move that should make it simpler and easier for manufacturers to add NFC functionality to mobile phones and other devices.

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INSIDE: "Any initiative towards openness is good for us and the industry"

Inside Contactless has announced it is to make its MicroRead NFC protocol stack available under an Apache open source license, under a new brand name — Open NFC.

Handset manufacturers want to have multiple sources for all their components and not be tied to sourcing particular near field communication chipsets, Inside Contactless’ Loic Hamon explained to NFCW. Open NFC will offer a consistent API across all NFC hardware, faster time to market and greater flexibility for OEMs and ODMs, making it easier for handset and other device manufacturers to build NFC functionality into their products.

“The market and Inside Contactless will both benefit from this, by accelerating adoption and reducing fragmentation,” Hamon explained. “We are living in an open world. Any initiative towards openness is good for us and the industry.”

“Open NFC fits right in with the trend toward open platforms in the mobile industry, and will benefit device makers as well as software developers and others in the mobile ecosystem in several ways, providing greater impetus to implementing NFC solutions across a broad range of consumer products,” added Philippe Martineau, executive vice president of the NFC business line at Inside Contactless.

Other companies, such as Stollmann (see our earlier article), also supply NFC protocol stacks that enable device manufacturers to add NFC functionality without having to support multiple protocols, but Open NFC is the first to deliver the added benefits that open sourcing can bring.

“Having an open-source NFC stack like Open NFC is a game-changing development, providing greater flexibility in sourcing NFC controllers and a consistent programming interface,” says Gary Koerper, vice president of engine systems at Motorola Mobile Devices. “We congratulate Inside Contactless for their contribution to the open source movement.”

“Qualcomm understands the increasing importance of open source and community-driven software to the mobile industry, particularly as customer demand for open and flexible software coupled with powerful mobile hardware platforms continues to increase,” added John Elliott, senior director of emerging connectivity technologies at Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. “It is a great pleasure to see NFC move closer to the open source community, and Inside Contactless is one of the visionary companies making this happen.”

Mobile operators have also welcomed Open NFC. “Orange believes Open NFC will be a catalyst for change in the NFC marketplace by reducing market fragmentation and removing barriers to adoption of this promising technology,” said Yves Maitre, senior vice president of mobile multimedia and devices at Orange. “Inside Contactless has made a major contribution to the advancement of NFC.”

The Open NFC protocol stack provides a complete NFC middleware solution for mobile phones, embedded products and other devices and supports several levels of functionality from low-level RF control to high-level NFC Forum tag handling, peer-to-peer communications, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi pairing and interactions with single-wire protocol SIMs and other secure elements. It is also compatible with smart cards and RFID tags based on Felica, Mifare and ISO 14443 standards.

Open NFC 3.4 is available now for WinCE 6.0 (compatible with Windows Mobile 7) and Linux 2.6 and an Android implementation will be available with the planned release of Open NFC 3.5 at the end of March. Going forwards, Inside Contactless says it will continue to invest heavily in the development of Open NFC.

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