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Thai IC Developer's NFC RFID Chip Has Ability to Enable New Interactive Products

Silicon Craft Technology's NFC Enabler IC lets users create electronic devices that can broadcast sensor data, smart posters with passively powered push buttons, and a range of entirely new applications.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 03, 2014

Thai IC developer Silicon Craft Technology (SIC) has launched a dual-interface Near Field Communication (NFC) chip that can be embedded in an electronic device, thus enabling that device to communicate with—and be controlled by—a smartphone or other NFC reader. The firm's NFC Enabler SIC4310 passive RFID chip, now being sampled by several companies and their customers worldwide, can be integrated with sensors and other peripheral devices via a UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter) interface.

The SIC4310 chip, for example, can be integrated with a passive e-ink display, a capacitor to connect to sensors and a microcontroller. The chip harvests energy from RF transmissions and, therefore, does not require a battery. This interface enables the system to transmit such data as temperature measurements or the pressing of a button, to an NFC reader in a phone or tablet. It can also receive and display a picture or text message from a phone on its own e-paper display, or instruct a device—such as a toy with a built-in NFC reader—to flash a light-emitting diode (LED), or to beep or play a tune.

This interactive poster, made with an NFC Enabler SIC4310 RFID chip, includes buttons that consumers can press to access specific product promotions. The technology is passively powered by an NFC-enabled phone placed on the tag's antenna.
The NFC Enabler can be built into a variety of larger devices, for applications that can include capturing data from a home appliance (for example, a refrigerator's temperature reading), obtaining readings from a health-care device (such as a blood-pressure monitor), or capturing and managing data collected by vending machines. All use cases would require that a user have an application loaded onto his or her NFC reading device.

Silicon Craft Technology was founded in 2002 as an integrated circuit (IC) manufacturer offering low-frequency (LF), high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, explains Apiwat Thongprasert, the company's business development manager. In November 2013, the firm launched the SIC4310 IC, which consists of an RFID analog-front-end interfacing circuit supporting the ISO 14443A standard, a UART controller and 196 bytes of user memory to capture and store data and forward it to a reader built into an NFC phone or tablet PC. The SIC4310 supports a wide variety of applications that are now being trialed in the commercial and health-care sectors, Thongprasert says. The company offers five different development kits, along with a related demonstration app at Google Play, enabling potential adopters to sample the technology for their own use cases, or those of their customers.

One version of the development kit has an e-paper screen and built-in sensors for measuring temperature or other variables, according to Kris Rerkrai, SIC's NFC product specialist.

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