Press release | 11.6.2015
Paris/Munich, 11 June 2015 - A tiny chip that enables highly secure, contactless data transfer between mobile devices has earned Austrian Franz Amtmann (58) and Frenchman Philippe Maugars (57) the European Inventor Award 2015 in the "Industry" category. Amtmann and Maugars and their teams at Dutch company NXP Semiconductors, one of the global leaders in Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, received the award today in a ceremony at the Palais Brongniart, the historical Paris stock exchange, in the presence of some 400 guests from the worlds of politics, business and science. The prestigious award, now in its 10th year, is presented annually by the European Patent Office to recognise outstanding inventors who have made an exceptional contribution to social development, technological progress and economic growth.
"NFC opens up countless new applications for smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Numerous functions are merged into a single multifunctional unit," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli in praise of the inventors at the European Inventor Award ceremony. "NFC harbours immense potential for society: it creates new opportunities for users to interact directly with their surroundings - a development that revolutionises the world of modern communications."
Despite - or perhaps thanks to - its small size, this innovation is now a fundamental part of modern communications: NFC chips have given our mobile phones and tablets, in reality already multifunctional mini-computers, a brilliant boost in terms of new application possibilities. Amtmann and Maugars' invention now belongs to a set of standards for mobile technology, and one out of every three mobile phones on the market today contains an NFC chip. It creates new possibilities for fast, secure data transfer between mobile devices. The technology enables smartphones to be used as virtual wallets, access cards for secure areas, and in various ways in the context of Industry 4.0. Smart home application control, secure product certification, or individual dosage reminders for prescription drugs: NFC makes all of this possible. NFC tags can also be sewn into clothing; in addition to providing washing instructions on request, they can transmit the owner's digital calling card.
NFC, which enables contactless, secure, two-way communication, is based
on established connection technologies. These include RFID and MIFARE, a
contactless chip card technology developed by a team around Franz Amtmann back in
the 1990s. The NXP team set out to modernise and improve on these technologies.
Their research finally provided the initial spark for near field communication.
This form of consistently encrypted data transfer requires only a weak electromagnetic
field, making connection with NFC highly resistant to malicious interference. For
successful data transfer, the devices can be no more than ten centimetres apart - a
sizeable obstacle for interception attempts. If a phone is lost, its
functions can be locked via the Internet. An additional advantage: only one of
the devices needs to have a power supply for their interaction, a clear gain
over other communication methods such as WiFi or Bluetooth.
Note to editors: availability of AV and photo materials on 11 June
More information about all 15 European Inventor Award finalists (including AV, photo and text materials) is available in the EPO Media Centre.
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