NFC in action

A video has surfaced from the recent launch of the Nokia 6131 NFC phone at CES. The demo shows some basic functions of touch-based interactions such as using a ‘smart poster’ to make a phone call, uploading pictures to a picture frame, printing out from the gallery and paying at a contactless Visa till.

It is instantly clear that the interaction with the device has been much improved since Nokia’s previous NFC attempts. As the NFC interactions are now a core part of the operating system the response is very quick, and the range of functions is becoming appealing. The comments on both YouTube and Gizmodo are unusually positive.

Using a ‘flip’ form for an NFC device is very clever, as it allows the RFID reader to be at the top of the device when opened: the most natural placement for people to use the phone as a physical ‘pointer’. In previous NFC ‘candybar’ phones, the RFID reader has been placed underneath, to separate it from the multiple other antennae at the top of the phone, and this has been confusing for users.

Meanwhile in Japan KDDI unveils ten new devices almost all of which include FeliCa. Lets hope there is some compatibility between NFC and FeliCa in the near future.

Related things:

  1. Thoughts on Nokia’s NFC developments On April 15th Nokia announced the 6212 ‘classic’ phone that incorporates Near Field Communication technology. This phone is the fourth NFC-capable phone from Nokia in as many years and it is the first NFC......
  2. Nokia releases first mass-market NFC handset Nokia today announced the 6131 NFC phone, the first integrated NFC handset that will (operators willing) be available to the public. Previously NFC had been confined to ageing handsets like the 5140 and 3220......
  3. Developing NFC applications Judging by the number of emails we have received, there is great interest in software and hardware development of NFC applications. The main stumbling block at the moment seems to be working out what......
  4. iPhone RFID and NFC peripherals We are beginning to see RFID and NFC peripherals beginning to be released for the iPhone. Since our conceptual video prototype of the iPhone object-based media came out in April, we’ve had thousands of......
  5. Universal design with NFC This is a design brief, one of many themes that the Touch project is investigating. NFC has been suggested as an enabling platform for universal design or design for all. Universal design can be......

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  1. Posted 31 January 2007 at 1:30 | Permalink

    Hi Timo:

    I’m a bit confused by your comment:

    “Lets hope there is some compatibility between NFC and FeliCa in the near future.”

    FeliCa is Sonys ‘brand name’ for the IC chip. They have been working - along with Phillips - to pioneer this system and are supporters of as well. Although I do understand it’s been challenging to agree on the global common platform (ISO standard) for their latest revision we already have (est.) 25 mln handsets on the street in Japan with FeliCa embedded.. 8-)

    Interesting times ahead!

  2. Timo
    Posted 31 January 2007 at 16:38 | Permalink

    As far as I know there are some differences in the specifications between NFC and FeliCa (it may be on the radio layer, maybe Janne can help us out here).

    They use the same frequency and are compatible in theory but it will take more work from the NFC forum before we can use our phones between regions. Clearly even more work at a higher level will be needed before we can use them as global travelcards…

  3. Posted 31 January 2007 at 21:41 | Permalink

    Here’s a quick lowdown, which skips a few essential technical details, but…

    There are three layers in any given NFC application: radio, protocol(s), and application. FeliCa and what NFC Forum is specifying (separated from any other random NFC application out there) are compatible on a radio level, since they are based on the same ISO standards (14443 and 18092). On the protocol layers, they are mostly compatible. On the application layer, not at all. Sony is sitting on the FeliCa application protocols, and being compatible with them means licensing and NDAs and all that jazz. (To be fair, this is also true for Philips Mifare and other similar technologies - common base, but differentiation is on the application level. Pretty standard in the smartcard world).

    However, one of the mandatory tag formats is based on a selected portion of the FeliCa application command set. So, at RF, and partway up the protocol stack an NFC Forum device will be compatible with FeliCa. Just not all the way. It depends heavily on your application whether you can call NFC and FeliCa compatible or not.

    It is up to each individual company which implements NFC in their devices then to figure out whether full FeliCa compatibility is worth the effort - or vice versa: you can first implement FeliCa and then figure out if adding NFC on top of it is worth the effort.

    (But, Sony and NXP (former Philips Semiconductors) have formed a joint venture to make a common chip for both FeliCa and Mifare. So you can make your own conclusions on whether convergence is occurring or not :).

    However, I’d like to point out that since NFC is a very localized technology (i.e. it is much about things happening here and now), the incompatibility between these two technologies is mostly irrelevant from the consumer point of view, as you are unlikely to hit a scenario where you would need the other technology. While it would be cool to load your cell phone with a Suica card, it’s probably a lot less hassle to just get a throwaway card from a vending machine - especially if you only travel to Japan on your honey moon :)

  4. Timo
    Posted 31 January 2007 at 22:01 | Permalink

    Thanks for the details Janne. One of the areas where international compatibility would be good is in the ‘smart poster’ (and beyond) part of the specifications. I can see numerous tourist and travel applications falling over these issues…

  5. Posted 1 February 2007 at 5:53 | Permalink

    Hey Guys:

    Thanks for the extra details..

    Janne: As for your comment ” would be cool to load your cell phone with a Suica card, it’s probably a lot less hassle to just get a throwaway card from a vending machine..”

    That’s for sure, especially considering it only became possible to get Suica on your handset (without 1st getting a JR credit card - therefore needing a Japanese bank account - therefore needing more than just a tourist visa) in the last few months.. _

    Timo: We have seen a few FeliCa ‘Smart Poster’ style campaigns here and expect that area to grow quickly in Japan going forward. Also, you should note that DoCoMo’s latest 903i series introduced last November - 14 new models as I recall - have increased the application folder size by a factor of 10x. They also now allow for direct P2P exchange of non-drm data between handsets.. pretty fast and very cool..!!

    Otherwise, no doubt the various players will settle on a common global platform, just like the now well-established Visa / M.C offerings, as the mobile commerce industry continues to develop over the next few years.

    As I said: Interesting times.. 8-)

  6. Posted 1 February 2007 at 16:00 | Permalink

    Timo: yes, Smart Poster is certainly something which is likely to be internationally standardized. I don’t know too much about FeliCa smart posters, or FeliCa p2p transfers, though.

  7. Posted 8 February 2007 at 9:54 | Permalink

    New Nokia 6131 NFC phone is available now at ToP Tunniste netstore

  8. Posted 11 February 2007 at 15:33 | Permalink

    I’ve posted some developer insight on this, at my blog:

  9. Spencer
    Posted 28 October 2007 at 5:04 | Permalink


    I am a newbie to all this, can somebody help me understand what is the difference between felica and NFC? Is felica a brand name and NFC a generic technology name?

  10. Basavaraj
    Posted 31 March 2009 at 8:09 | Permalink

    what is the main difference between NFC and NFMI?

    What are the audio format inputs to the hearing aid?

  11. sozz
    Posted 20 June 2009 at 4:09 | Permalink

    Is there any difference in usage of NFC and FeliCa by Sony?or is FeliCa also part of NFC? some thing like that ? i dont get the idea of NFC and FeliCa. are they different technologies?
    if they are different which is better and why ?

  12. Timo
    Posted 24 June 2009 at 14:17 | Permalink

    See Janne’s reply above on these exact issues.

    Felica and NFC are the same at the radio level, but they differ in their software and standards implementation. I don’t think there would be too many hurdles to making them interoperable…

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