NFC Ready for Mainstream Adoption with New Combo Chip

The concept of mobile payments – as well as the technology that makes it possible – has been around for a while now. But just like the early days of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies, Near Field Communications technology has been slow to attract widespread adoption.

That’s starting to change. In recent months, analysts have started feeling bullish again around NFC’s potential – but not just because of mobile payments. They’re especially interested on an emerging ecosystem of use cases that could employ NFC technology.

By innovating around NFC technology, Broadcom is helping to open doors to new use cases by making it possible for a growing number of products – from mobile devices to home electronics – to use the technology as a springboard for added features and services.

Today, Broadcom is unveiling its latest NFC portfolio, which includes the industry’s first chip to bring four proven technologies  – NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and FM radio – into a single die.  The quad combo chip – BCM43341 – could help spur NFC adoption by helping smartphone makers launch enabled devices cheaper and faster than ever before. For the higher-end of the market, Broadcom offers a single card combining its 5G WiFi combo chip with  NFC.NFC Infographic

Last month, Google announced the selection of Broadcom’s open NFC software stack for all Android-based devices, including the new Nexus 10 tablet and Nexus 4 smartphone, and Nintendo announced the use of Broadcom’s NFC technology in the new Wii U game console.

A Market on the Rise

According to Forrester Research, more than 100 million NFC-enabled devices will be shipped by year’s end ABI Research sees some 800 million  NFC-enabled devices on the market by 2016 and, of those, nearly 25 percent will be consumer electronic such as TVs, game consoles and tablet PCs. More than half will be smartphones.

“We see NFC as merely a technology enabler for several types of mobile contactless services,” Forrester analyst Thomas Husson wrote in a report, titled NFC: What Lies Beyond Contactless Payments.

As a contactless, near-proximity technology, NFC has the ability to:

  • Allow friends to share playlists, photos and other data with a tap of two smartphones.
  • Enhance gaming when a user taps his controller to a friend’s console for instant access to personalized settings, such as avatars and virtual accounts.
  • Send content, such as the video on a tablet, to another screen, such as the living room TV, so everyone can enjoy.

Other Use Cases

Even the mobile payment capability, which has been around for a couple of years but not widely adopted, is coming of age. There’s renewed chatter about wireless coupons, loyalty programs, shelf tags with product information and even the idea that digital shopping list can communicate with a NFC-enabled shopping cart to keep a running subtotal or flag items that are high in calories.

In the industry at large, there’s an understanding that some consumers are still getting used to the idea of using their mobile phones as a payment device and are demanding better options for linking their devices to share information.

And that’s what NFC is about — bridging the wireless world to the physical world. It’s simplified connectivity.


About the Author

Mohamed Awad is responsible for NFC at Broadcom as well as Treasurer and a Board Director at the NFC Forum. He has previously held various marketing, business development and engineering management positions… More