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A Conversation With NXP's Tony Sabetti and Steve Owen

Two of the RFID chipmaker's top executives talk about the RFID market, chip security and NFC phone applications.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
RFID Journal: How does NXP decide what functions to add to its chips, and when to add them?

Owen: We ask the question ourselves regularly. The key point is to engage carefully with customers to try to understand the specifications required, and fine-tune the R&D process. There is strong demand for simple tags, but sometimes we get thrown by demand for high-function products as well.

RFID Journal: There is a lot of talk in the industry regarding the need for security in EPC tags. How will that work? How will we get a more secure EPC tag, and from where will the impetus for that come?

Sabetti: We believe it comes in product authentication. Let's say a shoe manufacturer wanted to include a tag with cryptography in order to ensure that a shoe is authentic. We already have the technology to do that—look at the security in the Mifare Plus chip. It's a matter of putting that functionality on a UHF chip.

RFID Journal: So why not add it?

Owen: You need lead customers and lead projects that are going to deliver the scale you need to justify adding it. And that's true for any supplier.

RFID Journal: What about printable RFID chip technology? Does NXP have a research arm in this area?

Owen: We have a number of partners researching this. The issue is, how do you mass-produce and make it reliable in terms of scalability? That's one of the challenges. We don't see how to scale such technology and make it affordable in massive quantities. We're not saying it won't happen, but at the moment, it's hard to see how this is a good investment for our customers. I'm sure it will get solved at some point, but we're not there yet.

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