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NFC stack gets open sourced

Apr 21, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Inside Contactless, a manufacturer of near field communications (NFC) chips, announced an open source version of its NFC protocol stack for mobile platforms including Windows CE 6.0. Version 3.5 of “Open NFC” will be available on May 15, complete with source code and full API documentation, the company says.

A French semiconductor vendor specializing in contactless chip technologies, Inside Contactless previously sold its commercial-grade NFC protocol stack under the name Microread Software Foundation. Designed to work with the company's Microread NFC chips for close-proximity wireless communications, the stack was released under an open source Apache License 2.0 as Open NFC 3.4 in February, says the company.

Open NFC 3.4 was compatible with Linux 2.6 and Windows CE 6.0. Open NFC 3.5, released earlier this month, is compatible with Android, Windows Mobile, and Java, too, says Inside Contactless.

Inside Contactless says Open NFC 3.5 source code and API documentation will be available on starting May 15. The move "extends Inside's software stack as the de facto open solution for NFC enablement on mobile devices," the company stated.


Open NFC provides NFC middleware for mobile phones and other embedded devices, says Inside Contactless. The stack is said to include a full set of interfaces, NFC software libraries and APIs, and a reference design, says the company.

According to Inside Contactless, Open NFC can be used to control everything from low-level RF control to high-level NFC Forum tag handling. Other touted features include peer-to-peer communications, Bluetooth and WiFi pairing, and interactions with SWP (single wire protocol) SIMs and other secure elements. Open NFC is said to be compatible with smart cards and RFID tags based on Felica, Mifare, and ISO 14443 standards.

NFC (ISO 18092) is an extension of the ISO 14443 standard for RFID-based proximity cards, which also includes Sony's more well-established FeliCa contactless RFID technology, which is used in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. NFC is designed to offer a more power-efficient and affordable alternative to Bluetooth for very short-range, low-bandwidth applications, while also providing a more robust, bandwidth-rich alternative to RFID and other "contactless" technologies.

NFC uses magnetic loop induction technology to transmit data over four centimeter distances at up to 424Kbps using the unlicensed 13.56MHz band. The technology supports both passive (one-way) and active (two-way) modes, the latter being similar to Bluetooth transfers.

Inside Contactless claims to have delivered more than 350 million contactless platforms, and own 60 families of patents, including "several essential NFC patents." Microread customers include Qualcomm, which offers two NFC handset reference designs based on the chip, says Inside Contactless.

Philippe Martineau, executive vice president of the NFC business line for Inside Contactless, stated, "We are already in discussion with major industry players to support Open NFC as the de facto standard NFC stack for the Android, MeeGo, Linux and Windows Mobile platforms. Open NFC offers a number of benefits to these stakeholders, including an open, consistent API across all NFC hardware, faster time to market and greater flexibility. Now, with this source code release, Open NFC is the undisputed de facto NFC protocol stack solution in the industry."


More information on Open NFC may be found on the Inside Contactless website, here.

The NFC Forum industry group website may be found here.

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