Near Field Communication to get longer, stronger – better at contactless

Standards org's roadmap envisions three watt powerup and info sharing

The NFC Forum, the standards body for Near Field Communication, has detailed its key plans and research efforts between now and 2028.

Forum members include Apple, Google, Qualcomm, Sony, NXP and Huawei – a group that builds and packages plenty of NFC chips into plenty of devices. The group's roadmap is therefore a decent hint at the kind of experience that will come to smartphones and other NFC-equipped kit in coming years.

The Forum's five "roadmap innovation priorities" are as follows:

  • Increased Power for NFC Wireless Charging. The current NFC Wireless Charging specification offers up to one watt of power and plans are to increase these capabilities up to three watts. This change will bring wireless power and charging to new and smaller form factors, disrupting industrial design and defining new markets.
  • Increased Range. Today, NFC connections are limited to a range of 5mm, but the NFC Forum is in the process of examining ranges that are four to six times the current operating distance. Even a modest increase in range would make contactless transactions and actions faster and easier. It would also improve usability by decreasing the precision needed for antenna alignment.
  • Multiple Purpose Tap. This feature will further improve the contactless user experience by supporting several actions with a single tap. The use cases driving this work include point-to-point receipt delivery, loyalty identification, and total-journey ticketing.
  • Modernizing Device-to-Device Communication. Designed to empower NFC-enabled smartphones to have Point-of-Sale functionality (SoftPOS), allowing businesses or individuals to receive payments anywhere.
  • Expanding NFC's Ability to Share Data Formats Needed for Sustainability. Enabling NFC to share data on its composition and ways a product can be recycled, helping to meet evolving consumer demands, and regulatory requirements, as well as contributing to a healthy circulatory economy.

The Forum has warned world+dog that not all of the above will land together – or by 2028.

"The individual work items are currently in varying stages of development, ranging from research to market requirements to draft specifications," the org advised, adding that it will "collaborate with its 400 members and various industry bodies to extend the reach of its roadmap and ensure its work program is complementary to other industry initiatives."

So don't get too excited about fast wireless charging or throwing out your point-of-sale kit just yet.

And if that longer range tech becomes reality, brace for dubious claims of stronger anti-skimming tech to protect the content of your wallets from crims conducting stride-by scanning of your phone or cards. Perhaps prepare, too, for a little more care at point of sale: your correspondent has been known to accidentally pay with my default card before I even had time to select another – and that was with today's less sensitive NFC tech.

The Forum will run a webinar to detail the above plans on June 27 at 09:00 ET/14:00 GMT/22:00 JST, for which you can register here. ®

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