RFID and NFC in the Future of Mobile Computing

RFID and NFC in the Future of Mobile Computing

Diogo Simões, Vitor Rodrigues, Luis Veiga, Paulo Ferreira
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-042-6.ch045
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This chapter describes the most important aspects of RFID and NFC technology, illustrating their applicative potential, and provides a vision of the future in which the virtual and real worlds merge together as if an osmosis took place.
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Technology is a term with origins in the Greek technología (τεχνολογία) — téchnē (τέχνη), 'craft' and -logía (-λογία), the study of something, or the branch of knowledge of a discipline (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2009). Applied to the human species, this concept deals on how we use knowledge of tools and crafts in order to control and adapt to our environment. Historically speaking, the technology has been present since the beginning of mankind, being fire or the wheel some of the most revolutionary technological discoveries ever.

Technology also refers to the collection of techniques, as the knowledge of how to combine resources to produce desired products, to solve problems, fulfill needs or satisfy wants. Throughout mankind’s evolution, the term technology has been applied in various different ways, resulting in the creation of different technological areas, such as the industrial technology, the military technology, the medical technology and many others. All of the different technological areas have the same common purpose of improving processes or creating new products in order to enhance a specific area. Typically, these technological areas are the result of a specific need in a specific area.

One of the most recent technological areas is the communications technology, which came as a result of the necessity for mankind to being able to communicate securely, faster and globally. The telephone and then the Internet were important technological advances when speaking of communication, allowing people to communicate seamlessly and globally, using different means (voice, text, data, and multimedia content).

For Human kind, there are two main aspects that have proven to be determinant throughout times, which are ambition and realization. Every time a technological barrier is broken, we realize that something that was not possible before is now real and we realize that we still have not reached the limit in that technological area. When we realize that, our ambition motivates us to overcome the next technological barrier. This is how information and communication technology has been evolving so rapidly during the last few decades.

Some years ago, we became able to communicate from one side of the world to another and this achievement created another need: being able to communicate in the same seamless and global way at the same time we could be mobile. This was how a new technological area was created, the Mobile Technology. The necessity of being able to communicate anywhere, anytime and at any speed has turned out into a major revolution in our everyday lives, and we are now able to use most of the communication technologies even while we are moving, by using the mobile phones which integrate those technologies.

This chapter presents how the Mobile Technology changed people’s everyday lives and how it is on the verge of doing it again. In addition, we provide a practical scenario (based on a prototypical example called OSMOSIS) that illustrates the range of possibilities that are made possible by RFID/NFC technology.

Key Terms in this Chapter

OSMOSIS: A prototypical RFID/NFC-based middleware system where real objects are associated with virtual objects represented by files which allows extending features and operations available in the virtual world to real objects.

NFC Ecosystem: A new market and technological ecosystem which resulted from the evolution of NFC and its specifications since 2006. This ecosystem has three major players that are the Mobile Network Operators (MNO), the Service Providers (SP) and the Trusted service Managers (TSM).

Smart Cards: A credit card or other kind of card with an embedded microchip. When the card uses RFID technology to send and receive data it is called a contactless smart card.

Secure Element: The NFC architecture component responsible for storing applications or data with high security requisites. The Secure Element architecture consists of a Java Card area, a MiFare area and a FeliCa area.

NFC Forum: The NFC Forum is a non-profit industry association that promotes the use of NFC short-range wireless interaction in consumer electronics, mobile devices and PCs. Formed in 2004, the Forum now has 140 members.

RFID: Method for identifying unique items using radio waves. Typically, a reader gets the information from the tag (tags can be passive or actively powered), which holds the unique information of the item.

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