The most important trade group promoting Near Field Communication, the NFC Forum sets standards for the technology and evangelizes its uses.
The group has had to balance the competing interests of its members and to fend off the inevitable suspicion that its specs favor its founders, NXP Semiconductors, Sony and Nokia. And some, mainly mobile operator interests, have questioned its bona fides as a standards organization.
But nearly 150 companies have joined the forum since its founding in 2004. The forum is playing a key role in insuring the technology works as planned and is interoperable, especially when NFC phones or other devices are called upon to act as contactless readers or in peer-to-peer mode.
In June 2009, the forum introduced an acceptance mark, a stylized “N,” to tell consumers where they could tap their phones or other devices to use the technology outside the point of sale. Some in the industry, however, criticize the design as evoking the name of the technology–which consumers care little about–not the services NFC could offer.
The forum is building an NFC-conformance-testing program and as part of that effort has commissioned two companies to develop test tools for the task. It will spend US$200,000 to validate the tools with a test laboratory. By 2010, the forum plans to begin certifying suppliers for conformance with the technology, though not for interoperability. For that, it will hold regular “plugfests.”
It is also giving more companies a voice, and in August 2009 introduced a special membership category for “implementers,” mainly small companies. Still, its most important committee assignments and board posts go to the big sponsors.
140 (Sept. 2009)