Franz Amtmann, et al. and Philippe Maugars, et al.
Near Field Communication (NFC) technology
Winners the European Inventor Award 2015
The secure, contactless communication provided by NFC is not only simplifying purchases, but also makes it possible to buy train or bus tickets while boarding, share photos and contacts with others easily, and clear an airplane boarding pass with a flick of the wrist.
A team of electrical engineers at multinational manufacturer NXP Semiconductors, a spin-off of Dutch electronics giant Philips, has been instrumental in making the technology commercially viable. Their work is playing a critical role as mobile devices and other NFC-enabled data carriers such as smartcards evolve to enable people to interact securely with the world around.
Before NFC, little technical attention had been placed on interaction between cell phone users and their immediate environment. In fact, mobile devices frequently functioned as a distraction from the environment, whether on a boring train ride or in a long queue at the supermarket.
NFC technology helps re-engage users with the world around them and simplify the interaction between their smart phone ̶ or other NFC-enabled device ̶ and their environs. Examples of how NFC has been implemented include: interactive displays at museums, unlocking doors, and NFC touch points at universities to aid non-native language speakers.
While carrying a wallet or pocketbook might not yet be obsolete, NFC is helping to take over some of their functions and offers a convenient back-up. You can use NFC to share electronic business cards with others, provide your health insurance information to a doctor, and of course make purchases at an estimated 500,000 locations, which is continuing to grow.
NFC technology generated total revenues of € 863.78 million (US$ 1.07 billion) in 2012, and the market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 43.7% until 2019.
There were already 300 million NFC-equipped devices shipped in 2014. This number is expected to top half a billion by the end of 2015.
While its use in mobile payment systems often steals the headlines, especially since the recent inclusion of NFC technology within the latest Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy models, it can also be used in many other ways. For example, NFC may be used to secure access to specific areas of a building; enable or disable device functionality when entering a meeting; distribute marketing messages to devices when their owners enter a store; and to share documents and data between users.
How it works
The NFC circuit patented by Amtmann and his team enables passive response technology, for tags that don’t have their own power sources, such as credit cards and beacons, and also allows for communication between two powered devices.
The NFC secure connection method patented by Maugars works by detecting the power levels of the energy sources required to complete an NFC-based transaction. If either energy source is insufficient for an NFC connection to be established, the NFC signal itself is used to generate enough charge in one of the devices to enable the transaction to be completed.
Philippe Maugars and Patrice Gamand patented a method for ensuring a secure connection within an NFC circuit. Maguars, a trained mathematician and former university maths professor, joined Philips in 1983. Over his thirty-year career, Maugars’ work has spanned fields ranging from smart card readers to solid state lighting and cellular communications systems. He is inventor or co-inventor on more than 25 patents. In 2013, Maugars started his own company that cooperates closely with NXP Semiconductors.
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