Near-field communications (NFC), a technology that enables the transmission of data over short distances, has been hovering around the periphery of the telecommunications sector for about a decade. If the plast couple of months is an accurate barometer, NFC is starting to make its move.
The biggest sign is the interest being shown to it by Apple. Near Field Communications World reports that the company has hired Ben Vigier, who has been in the NFC game since 2004, most recently as mFoundry's product manager for mobile wallet, payment and NFC. In addition, the site reports that Apple has filed "a barrage" of patent applications related to NFC during the past few months. They are described in the story.
Other UFC news is emerging as well. In a $1.5 billion deal, China Unicom said it will create a research center in Chongqing for rollout of the technology across the country. That's not insignificant, especially considering that China just bypassed Japan and now is the the world's second-largest economy.
Still more news: AT&T and Verizon Wireless are planning a venture to use NFC to displace payment cards, according to Bloomberg. T-Mobile USA, Discover Financial Services and Barclays are reported to be involved in the a test of the system in Atlanta and perhaps three other cities, the report says. Finally, last month security firm Gemalto said that it is providing its Trusted Services Management service to a NFC launch in Thailand that it is running in conjunction with KASIKORNBANK, the second-largest bank in the country, and telecom company Advanced Info Services.
For NFC to take off-and for any of these news items to mean anything in the long run -- some dicey security issues must be addressed. NFC Times digs down into this issue. Currently, according to the technical director for GlobalPlatform, a consortium of companies working on smart card technology, Apple, Research in Motion and Android "are making applications with no security." GlobalPlatform is working on a specification that would created a "trusted execution environment" in the smartphone.
It is difficult to navigate through all the large number of communications techniques, especially in the shorter distances. There likely is a place for NFC, which is about as short-range as it gets.