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Dual-interface NFC tag could be Bluetooth alternative

Posted: 19 Mar 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NFC tag  contactless interface  NFC Forum Type 4  dual-interface NFC tag 

INSIDE Secure has released an innovative near field communication (NFC) tag that creates virtually limitless possibilities for interactions. The device targets NFC mobile devices such as smartphones and a broad range of medical, communications, entertainment and other electronic devices.

Aside from the conventional NFC contactless interface, the INSIDE claims that its dual-interface NFC Forum Type 4 Tag also provides a unique one-wire interface that allows the tag to provide a low-cost wireless communications bridge between two devices.

"With the addition of the one-wire interface to our NFC type4 tags we transformed basic storage devices into a versatile communication channel that can be a very cost effective alternative to Bluetooth or other connectivity technologies," said Christian Fleutelot, executive vice president, digital security at INSIDE Secure.

Using the new tags, a single tap of an NFC phone to a Bluetooth wireless headset containing one of these tags can initiate the pairing operation. The tag detects the NFC field on the contactless interface, and sends a pulse over the one-wire interface to the controller inside the headset to start the pairing process.

This same kind of field sensing could be used to quickly and automatically establish WiFi connectivity for the first time between an NFC device, such as a tablet, and a new wireless access point, or to start transferring data, through the tag, between the NFC and host devices.

The INSIDE dual-interface NFC Type 4 Tag is offered in two memory configurations. The VaultIC 151D offers a 1.5Kb file system size, while the VaultIC 161D has a 16Kb file system size, the largest in the industry. Each tag integrates a standard contactless interface with full ISO14443 Type B protocol support for communicating with NFC devices and an INSIDE Secure proprietary one-wire interface for connection to a host processor (using just one GPIO). Accessing the data contained within the file systems from either interface is performed using the standard NFC Forum command set.

The large 16Kb storage capability of an embedded VaultIC 161D NFC tag makes it ideal for use in home medical monitoring devices, where it is able to store a days worth of medical data from the device's host processor through the one-wire interface. At the end of the day, a simple tap on the device with an NFC smartphone can transfer all of the information stored in the tag through the NFC interface into the phone, which can then transmit it to the medical center.

These VaultIC dual-interface tags are actually high-security modules designed to be used as NFC tags, and feature several hardware security protection/detection mechanisms to prevent tampering and a variety of external attacks, including dedicated hardware for protection against SPA/DPA/SEMA/DEMA attacks, advanced protection against physical attacks, environmental protection systems and secure memory management/access protection. In addition to standard NFC Forum Type 4 Tag operations, the dual-interface VaultIC tags can also authenticate the NDEF content stored in the tags, which can be digitally signed using on-chip asymmetric cryptography.

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