The NFC Forum is a non-profit industry association just outside of Boston that advances the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. In early June the association introduced its target mark, a stylized letter "N" that enables consumers to easily locate embedded NFC tags.
The N-Mark indicates the spot where an NFC device can read an NFC tag to establish a connection. By holding an NFC-enabled device close to the N-Mark, consumers can "pick up" information stored on NFC tags embedded in everyday objects such as posters, bus stop signs, parking permits, street signs, medicines, magazine pages and food packaging.
Applications for NFC tags span a wide range of industries, including public transit, retail and healthcare. Examples include: downloading transit schedules, maps, film trailers, retail coupons, and cooking recipes from smart posters; ordering taxi service or meals via embedded tags on signs and menus; signing up for SMS retail offers at store displays; obtaining detailed prescription information or verifying drug authenticity by reading tags on prescription bottles; and many more. Consumers can perform all of these actions simply by touching an NFC-enabled device, such as a mobile phone, to the N-Mark.
"The ability to read information stored on embedded tags is one of NFC's essential capabilities, which also include enabling contactless payments and file transfers between devices," said Koichi Tagawa, chairman of the NFC Forum. "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 tags are small, inexpensive and already available for purchase from commercial tag manufacturers, many of which are NFC Forum members. The tags can be applied easily to many surfaces, including posters, signs, business cards, magazines and product labels. NFC tags can be applied, for example, by business owners, advertising agencies, tag makers or media developers.
All tags must be readable by NFC-enabled devices implementing NFC Forum Types 1-4 Tag Operation Specifications. All applications must be compliant with the NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) Technical Specification. To further support tag usage and deployment, the NFC Forum has created Record Type Definition (RTD) Technical Specifications for applications that include text, URI, and/or smart poster record types. These specifications are available for download free of charge from the NFC Forum website: http://www.nfc-forum.org/specs. Organizations may also create their own RTDs for other record types, as long as they conform to the RTD structure defined by the NFC RTD Technical Specification.