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N to Mark the Spot for Using NFC

The NFC Forum yesterday introduced the N-Mark logo that was created to give consumers an easy visual reference to where NFC services are available. The logo was unveiled the same day a competing NFC initiative was announced.
Jun 03, 2009This article was originally published by RFID Update.

June 3, 2009—As part of its effort to promote the use of near field communication (NFC) contactless technology, the NFC Forum yesterday introduced its trademark N-Mark logo that will be used to indicate where NFC-enabled services are available. The logo is for use on standardized NFC tags and will indicate to consumers that they can touch their NFC-enabled cell phone or PDA to the tag to receive information or access applications.

"If you want someone to interact with NFC, the first thing you have to do is give them the idea to interact and where to use it," Julia Charnock, co-chair of the NFC Forum marketing communication working group said in a webinar that followed the announcement yesterday.

NFC tags are accessed from near-contact range by readers that can be built into cell phones and other devices. The tags can be used to download text, audio, video and applications to the user's device, and are also widely used for contactless payment applications. Technology developers envision a range of consumer-oriented applications such as smart movie posters that users can access to view trailers, get show times and purchase tickets, delivering product information and coupons, product authentication, mobile payment and much more. Mass adoption will require applications, cell phones and PDAs that support NFC, interoperability among devices, and consumer awareness of the technology, which the N-Mark will help address.

"Because it marks the opening of a new world of information to consumers, the launch of the NFC Forum N-Mark is a key milestone in the global commercialization and promotion of NFC technology," NFC Forum chairman Koichi Tagawa said in the announcement.

The N-Mark is free but has some usage limitations. It is only for use on tags that meet NFC Forum Tag Type 1, 2, 3 or 4 specifications. N-Mark designated tags also must conform with the NFC Forum's NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) Technical Specification. The N-Mark symbol and specifications can be downloaded free from the NFC Forum website.

The N-Mark adds to recent momentum behind NFC development and adoption. In recent weeks the NFC Forum has also announced additional technical specifications, and semiconductor giant NXP introduced the first chip that supports a key NFC standard (see New Chip Represents Key Step in Adoption of NFC). Major trials in Tokyo and Malaysia were also announced, and the NFC Forum said yesterday it plans to have an interoperability program in place by the end of this year.

Also yesterday, Alcatel-Lucent's touchatag venture and PingPing, which is part of the Belgian telecommunications provider Belgacom Group, jointly announced they have created their own NFC-based payment system. The program initially supports NFC-enabled cards and stickers but the partners plan to extend it to phones.

"This cooperative relationship with PingPing will change the paradigm of payment and loyalty cards," Anthony Belpaire, general manager of Alcatel-Lucent's touchatag said in the announcement. "Today, too many of us suffer from 'fat wallet' syndrome as we place more and more payment cards and store loyalty cards into our wallets and back pockets. This technology enables us to pack all of that information on one card or even a mobile phone. With this card or phone, the consumer can easily complete a transaction or quickly download information on the spot."
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