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NFC Research Lab Rolls Out Smart Posters

The Austrian lab has deployed posters embedded with RFID tags so passersby in the town of Hagenberg can use RFID-enabled mobile phones to download information about local tourist sites.
By Rhea Wessel
In another project at the lab, researchers have developed a robot capable of moving on three axes so it can test, from all angles, the electromagnetic fields of NFC devices. The robot can measure read ranges between NFC devices and NFC tags, test how well the devices interoperate, and analyze how well they transfer large volumes of data. "The robot allows us to do the tests automatically to get the most objective results possible," Langer explains.

The NFC Research Lab uses a robot that can automatically measure read ranges and data transfer between NFC devices and NFC tags, and test how well NFC devices interoperate.

According to Langer, the devices tested by the robot can be moved in various positions, allowing the measurement results of the connection status to be displayed in two or three dimensions, in order to show how well the NFC device communicates in those positions. A computer controls the robot, calculates the measurements related to the device and renders an illustration of the measurements. What's more, an oscilloscope can measure the field amplitude—that is, the devices' range—and help determine which NFC devices cannot be used with other such devices.

In 2006, the NFC Research Lab conducted some of its first trials on campus (see Austrian University Begins NFC Trial). Since then, the lab has studied how to expand the functionality of NFC chips, integrate NFC hardware and software, and develop energy-efficient NFC chips.

The lab is currently planning its third NFC conference, to be held Feb. 23 to 26, 2009. On the first day of that event, developers will work together directly with Mobilkom, Nokia and other companies. On the second day, attendees will discuss business issues related to NFC. Finally, on day three, participants will be able to join a scientific workshop sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

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