Research Proposal

Danielle Haigh, Yuan Li, Alex Landegger, Siyang Wu, Jessica Steele

Group Research Proposal: Near Field Communications

An Introduction to the Significance of NFC – Context & Content

Near Field Communication (NFC), both as a technology and as a code of standards for contactless communication and technology, has and will provide a deep impact to the lives of everyday users.   Inside the “black box” of many current and forthcoming NFC enabled devices, as well through the context of numerous industries and the users employing the technology and NFC standards, NFC promises to make “life easier and more convenient for consumers around the world by making it simpler to make transactions, exchange digital content, and connect electronic devices with a touch” (“NFC Forum”).  Defined as “a short-range wireless technology that enables the communication between devices over a distance of less than 10 cm”, NFC is used in three main ways:

  • Card emulation: the NFC device behaves exactly like a contactless card and can be used in transport fare payment systems based on MiFare, Calypso or Felica as well as open banking payment systems based on Visa payWave, MasterCard PayPass or American Express ExpressPay
  • Reader mode: the NFC device is active and reads a passive RFID tag; for example reading and storing a Web address or coupon from a poster for interactive advertising
  • Person-to-person (P2P) mode: two NFC devices communicate with each other exchanging information” (“Gemalto”).

Compared to existing wireless technologies, NFC is game-changing in its “simplicity” as the technology is “compatible with the existing contactless infrastructure” and “characterized by a natural and intuitive ‘just touch’ movement” (“Gemalto”).

Inside the box, on a basic level, NFC “enables devices to share information at a distance less than 4 centimeters with a maximum communication speed of 424kbps” (“About NFC”).  Complimenting and utilizing many of today’s “popular consumer level technologies”, NFC is continuing development based on “existing standards for contactless card technology (ISO/IEC 14443 A&B and JIS-X 6319-4)” (“About NFC”).  This enables the NFC user to interact with “existing contactless card infrastructure” and to use “one device across different systems” now and moving forward (“About NFC”).  Built upon “bidirectional communication”, NFC enables connections based on touch versus existing wireless technologies such as WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G and others (“About NFC”).  This technology can be used to “make purchases, pay for a bus or subway ride, or even grab information on the fly from posters”, while deployed in mobile phones NFC can “combin[e] the benefits of being “network connected”, with proximity services in every day’s life”(“Gemalto”).  By providing connections between the “virtual” and the “physical”, NFC provides a “new universal interface” enabling “current and future” solutions in: access control, consumer electronics, healthcare, information collection and exchange, loyalty and coupons, payments, and transport, just to name a few (“About NFC”)!

Although seemingly a simple technology, the contextual impact of NFC is extremely wide-ranging.  As the technology is still being explored and developed, it has become a hot topic in technology media as analysts and industry members discuss the prospective solutions and impacts NFC might have as it becomes further developed and deployed.  Forming an ecosystem of a diverse range of consumer service industries, technology, communications and consumer electronics specialists, the NFC Forum (http://www.nfc-forum.org/) was developed to include this wide range of perspectives, while providing a testament to the deep impact the technology is already reaching.  On the most basic level, the NFC Forum lists the main impacts the technology will have to consumers and business, such as the “intuitive” and “versatile” nature of the technology (requiring “no more than a simple touch” and being “ideally suited to the broadest range of industries, environments, and uses”) (“About NFC”).  As NFC is both “open and standards-based” and “technology-enabling”, NFC can be “universally implemented” and “facilitates fast and simple setup of wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.” (“About NFC”).  Due to its short range and “support [for] secure applications”, NFC is said to be “inherently secure”, yet “interoperable” to work “with existing contactless card technologies” (“About NFC”).

As NFC can be deployed to provide “simplicity and convenience” in a broad range of transactions, NFC is currently deployed, and being explored, for “widely diverse areas” which will be available in many moments during a “typical person’s daily life” )(“NFC in Action”).  Service industries, thus far, include:

  • Mass Transport (Pass gate, Retrieving information from a kiosk, Paying fare)
  • Advertising (Retrieve information from smart poster)
  • Public Transport (Adjust seat, Open door, Pay for parking)
  • Security (Enter/exit, Exchange business cards, Log in to machine)
  • Banking/Retail (Pay by credit card, Gain loyalty points, Get & use coupons)
  • and  Entertainment (Pass entrance, Retrieve event information)(“NFC in Action”).

In addition, NFC includes many distinct personal uses such as downloading and personalizing applications, checking usage history, downloading tickets, or locking a phone remotely (“NFC in Action”).  While these are some basic uses, NFC solutions are wide-ranging and continuing to be developed.  For example, Mashable, published “NFC Technology: 6 Ways It Could Change Our Daily Lives”, and included transformative solutions such as touch check-ins for social media, and NFC tags for nurses and doctors to keep track of who has checked in with a patient and when (Kessler).

Proposed NFC Research Plan

In order to successfully research NFC – the technology and its wide ranging impacts – our group will turn to a number of available sources.  These include a list of potential interview candidates in fields which will develop and employ the technology as well as everyday users.   Bibliographic resources will include research documents contributed by the NFC Forum and its members, the Georgetown University Library journal databases, as well as through a number of credible and developed online sources currently devoted to NFC.  Furthermore, work is continually being developed exploring the potential future uses and impacts of NFC to both the everyday consumer and related industries and available to the public.  As the technology is both currently in use and still in development for the use of future solutions, we have discovered a limitless amount of resources are available to us on the topic, a testament to the impact this technology is expected to create.

Proposed NFC Project Plan & Goals

As a cutting-edge technology, Near Field Communication is an ideal technology for a project of this scope. The technology itself is multifaceted enough to produce the multiple required deliverables and is sufficiently consequential, as NFC will have an impact on our everyday way of life in the near future.  Furthermore, the range of solutions derived from this technology, either currently developed, in the process of development, or simply in discussion, will impact diverse fields and industries.  Required deliverables of the group project will provide a productive platform for exploring this wide range of impact. For instance, through the:

  • Written Report: We plan to synthesize the overarching themes derived from such an immense, yet significant field.   Through a summation of the project and research components, we hope to allow a reader to grasp the most significant impacts of NFC in both its context & content.
  • Online Blog: Will allow for us to not only record our project developments but also to keep up to date with the latest NFC developments, applications that are using NFC and news surrounding the technology.
  • Video & Survey: Industry experts, as well as potential consumers of this technology, will be critical in all aspects of our project but will play a large role in designing a publicity packet and campaign. With group member associations to key members of the NFC ecosystem, such as solution specialists in RFID tags, smart cards and various identity solutions, we are in a key position to explore NFC’s potential implications.  Understanding the key questions and the future significant impacts of NFC will help us to frame our research and produce a strategic final project even as NFC solutions continue to evolve.
  • Technical Poster: While the context of NFC is diverse in its significance, our group also plans to explore the specific technology content which makes NFC possible through the technical poster.  Here, we will look inside the black box, while also placing NFC technology in relation to basic technological concepts we have learned through 506.

Through our joint strengths as team members and a collaborative final research project, our goal is to provide an informative and encompassing final project designed to highlight the most critical elements of NFC while relating the technology to its basic content/contextual concepts which will continue to impact students in 506 and beyond.

Works Cited

“About NFC.” NFC Forum. NFC Forum, 2011. Web. 21 Mar 2011.                                                    <http://www.nfc-forum.org/aboutnfc/&gt;.

Kessler, Sara. “NFC Technology: 6 Ways It Could Change Our Daily Lives.” Mashable. Mashable, 06 May 2010. Web. 21 Mar 2011. <http://mashable.com/2010/05/06/near-field-communication/&gt;.

“NFC Definition.” Gemalto. Gemalto, 2011. Web. 21 Mar 2011. <http://www.gemalto.com/nfc/definition.html&gt;.

“NFC in Action.” NFC Forum. NFC Forum, 2011. Web. 21 Mar 2011.                                                    <http://www.nfc-forum.org/aboutnfc/&gt;.

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