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Electronic Components Firm Releases NFC-enabled Wireless Charging System for Cars

ROHM's Qi-based wireless charging solution for car manufacturers will come with NFC reader technology from STMicroelectronics, to identify and protect NFC cards or other devices from destructive charging transmissions, while allowing pairing or security functionality with NFC-enabled phones.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 15, 2019

Electronic components company ROHM is marketing its new wireless charging device, known as Qi+NFC, that employs Near Field Communication (NFC) reader integrated circuits (ICs) from STMicroelectronics (ST). The technology is built into its Qi-compliant automotive wireless charging reference design, the company reports, in order to prevent damage to NFC cards.

The evaluation board expects the solution to be ready this month, with commercial release of its new wireless charging IC slated for April. "So the new system, including our devices, will be [commercially] available by summer 2019," says Kiyotaka Umemoto, the manager of ROHM's Automotive Marketing Strategy Division.

ROHM's Qi+NFC wireless charging device
The NFC-based charging module will include STMicroelectronics' ST25R3914 NFC reader IC and 8-bit STM8AF microcontroller unit (MCU). In addition to protecting NFC cards from stray wireless charging transmissions, says Rene Wutte, STMicroelectronics' marketing manager for NFC and RFID readers, "The NFC reader IC can be used for native pairing with Android [NFC-enabled] phones."

Qi is an open interface standard designed for 15-watt wireless power transfer over the air, at a distance of approximately 1.6 inches. Most mobile device manufacturers are using the standard to provide wireless charging functionality in their new devices. In fact, wireless charging is becoming increasingly prevalent for mobile devices. According to research conducted by IHS Markit in 2015, consumer awareness of wireless charging doubled during the span of one year, to 76 percent, while shipments of wireless power receivers in mobile phone handsets reached more than 120 million units that year alone.

Most mobile handsets are currently built with wireless charging features. In conjunction with that trend, companies are providing more wireless charging spots, including automotive manufacturers. NFC devices are also commonly stored in the wallets, purses and pockets of individuals for payments, access control and more. NFC tags, however, can be damaged or destroyed by the magnetic fields of wireless chargers, creating a potential conflict for a variety of NFC technology products.

"NFC is now pulled into the automotive market from multiple sides," Wutte explains. "On the one hand, the future of the key fob is the digital car key." On the other, he says, "This step means increasing the security of the key, as well as the convenience of integrating the phone to the car system, allowing the consumer to simply tap their phone to pair with the infotainment system." As such, Umemoto says, ROHM's solution can protect NFC tags, as well as enabling pairing.

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