NFC (Near-field Communication) is one of those things used by billions of people on a daily basis, without even knowing it. NFC is used for contactless communication between two devices, by employing principles of electromagnetic induction. As such, it is widely used in contactless payment systems, transportation ticketing, goods and assets tracking, etc. But what differentiates NFC from similar contactless solutions on the market (such as QR code, RFID, and similar), is the support for data exchange between two devices in an ad hoc fashion. This expands its usability beyond simple tag reading, making it a very interesting solution for various IoT applications.
However, at first glance, NFC design seems intimidating, mostly due to underlying antenna coil physics. But taking a closer look, designers may learn that with so much support available, it is hardly a good reason not to embrace this wonderful technology and its many advantages.
NFC Antenna Tool
As one of the co-founders of the NFC, NXP Semiconductors (NXP) offers unparalleled support when it comes to NFC. In order to provide help with the most critical aspect of any NFC design – the antenna, NXP released NFC Antenna Design, a specialized software tool capable of synthesizing antenna coil parameters, based on some provided input values. It is available for download from the official NFC Antenna Design Hub webpage, along with a lot of NFC design resources which make the implementation simple and easy.
The antenna design software tool has a very intuitive GUI. By providing some inputs as starting points, it will automatically calculate the rest of the required parameters, saving the designer from all the footwork related to complex antenna calculations. Besides the antenna coil itself, the software will also calculate values for the matching circuitry, based on the selected IC and NXP’s recommendations. The application supports a number of different NFC ICs from NXP, which can be selected from the drop-down list. The NFC Antenna Design Hub web page offers some additional resources in the form of application notes, videos, trainings, and recorded webinars, explaining how to successfully use the application to reduce antenna design time and get optimal results.
Overview of supported NFC/MCU combinations
Attempting to simplify NFC development even further, NXP has published a web page which contains an overview of supported NFC/MCU combinations which have ready to use resource packages. The available NFC/MCU (and MPU) combinations are represented in a tabular form. Each cell of the table contains a link towards the corresponding resource page. This simplifies browsing through available resources, saving a lot of time.
Depending on the specific NFC/MCU combination, resource pages may contain software libraries, OS drivers, code snippets, application examples, as well as an in-depth explanation with screenshots for each step. They represent a one-stop solution for a set of supported NFC/MCU combinations, allowing quick evaluation and simplified design.
EBV Elektronik, as your NXP distribution partner of choice in the EMEA region, further extends NXP’s support efforts. If you require assistance with your NFC projects, our EBV support experts will gladly help. Let us build a smarter world, together.