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Trimble's RFID-enabled CrewSight automates personnel management on construction sites ••• FinnCode brings NFC-enabled added-value to Italian luxury shoes, bags ••• Ams, STMicroelectronics launch secure NFC mobile-payment solution ••• Estimote adds beacon-sharing to its Cloud platform ••• Mayo Clinic, Gentag partner to develop wireless sensors to treat obesity, diabetes.
Ams, STMicroelectronics Launch Secure NFC Mobile-Payment Solution
Austrian IC and sensor manufacturer ams and Swiss semiconductor company STMicroelectronics have announced a Near Field Communication (NFC) system reference design that they say will make contactless transactions involving smartphones, smart watches and other wearable devices easier, more secure and more reliable. The reference design combines ams' new active tag analog front-end (AFE) chip with STMicroelectonics' NFC controller and secure element. It features advanced analog circuitry that the two companies claim can deliver excellent NFC performance even in devices with room for only a tiny antenna that is typically adjacent to metal surfaces or shielded by a user's hand, and is mounted in a location hostile to RF transmissions.
The reference design combines ams' new AS39230 AFE chip, which features the company's boostedNFC technology, with STMicroelectronics' ST54E System-in-Package (SIP) that contains the ST21NFCC controller and the ST33G1M2 32-bit secure microcontroller for Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC), embedded Secure Element, and microSD-card applications. It is intended to make a consumer's experience of contactless transactions easy, quick and completely reliable, the companies explain, whether for payments at shops, ticketing in metro or urban mass-transit infrastructure, or access control. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will also benefit from worldwide certification, including for Common Criteria, EMVCo, GlobalPlatform, and Visa, MasterCard, American Express and PBOC1, they report.
The boostedNFC technology works to overcome the limitations of passive load modulation, basically allowing a complete contactless credit card to be put onto an ultra-small form factor within a challenging environment. Approximately two years ago, ams added the technology to its AS3922 chip, an AFE chip that enables the operation of NFC RFID functionality on micro-SD, micro-SIM, SIM and other space-constrained carrier devices (see Ams Announces Analog Front-End Chip for Secure Operation of NFC-enabled Payment Transactions). Boosting the response to the reader allows for tag functionality in applications with a lot of RF interference in the field, or that require a ultra-small form-factor antenna.
The new AS39230 boosts the antenna's signal, increasing the signal strength up to 10 times compared with conventional passive load modulation (PLM) methods of transmitting a signal from an NFC tag, card or card emulator to an NFC reader. In space-constrained designs, the antenna's size can thus be reduced by as much as 20 times, down to 100 square millimeters (0.16 square inch) or less, while maintaining the same signal strength. The AS39230 allows for the device's metal casing to be used as an antenna, reducing the board space required for the NFC antenna and eliminating its related costs.
The ST33G1M2 Secure Element, which supports the latest Global Platform GP2.2 OS and NXP Semiconductors' complete Mifare portfolio (including Mifare Classic and Mifare DESFire), is suitable for banking and digital-access applications. Based on ARM's SecurCore SC300 32-bit RISC core, the ST33G1M2 provides Common Criteria-certified security features, together with a large and flexible embedded eFLASH—which, according to the two companies, allows OEMs and service providers to plan for future implementations with proven Trusted Service Management (TSM) infrastructure compatibility.
The AS39230 and ST54E support all important NFC standards governing card emulation, including ISO 14443 type A/B, FeliCa at data rates of up to 424 kilobits per second, active peer-to-peer bit rates of 212 kilobits per second and ISO 18092 communication at up to 424 kilobits per second.
The AS39230 NFC analog front end is now available in production volumes from ams, while the ST54E is available for sampling from STMicroelectronics. Pricing, reference designs, datasheets and an evaluation board are available on request from the appropriate supplier.
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