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2015 | 2016
Anatech Electronics, a manufacturer of RF and microwave
filters, has published its October newsletter. In it, Sam Benzacar asks the question
"Whatever happened to NFC?" He does a brief history on the big plans for near field
communication (NFC) as well as what likely doomed it - at least as originally envisioned.
Finally, Sam suggests a great application for NFC that, combined with contactless charging
(my interjection), could prove to be a huge market to resurrect NFC fever. There are also
a few news items relevant to Anatech Electronics' business (that would be RF filters).
A Word from Sam Benzacar
What Ever Happened
By Sam Benzacar
Among the seemingly endless wireless communications standards, near-field communications
(NFC) appears to be the winner in the crashed-and-burned category. Of course, there's always
WiMAX, which most people believe was killed off by LTE but it's still around, although with
much-diminished stature. But the story about NFC is more interesting because there seems to
be no reason why it hasn't taken flight.
NFC is best known as the enabler of so-called mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Android Pay,
and a few others. It supposedly will produce global revenue of more than $7 billion this year
with huge numbers of NFC tags in operation. If that's so, where are they? I'll bet few readers
have ever seen an NFC tag or ever used NFC, even for paying at the supermarket. Although Google
got into NFC sooner and far more deeply than Apple allowing developers to come up with applications,
Apple (true to form) only began supporting applications other than Apple Pay with iOS 11 (i.e.,
There are admittedly other examples of successful NFC applications, such as pairing Bluetooth
headsets, media players, and speakers. Video game manufacturers use NFC to unlock features
and the toy industry lets uses NFC tags to allow people to customize dolls, figurines, and
other products so each one is unique. In countries other than the U.S., people use it for
everything from paying for parking meters to their subway ride.
Practically speaking, what separates NFC from RFID is (among other things) that the distance
between the tag and reader can be only about 4 inches or so. In most wireless scenarios this
would be laughable but for NFC it's what makes the technology appealing, as the small distance
between the two devices makes data transfer very secure, so it's a natural for point-of-sale
Except nobody is using mobile wallets apps in the U.S. (only 5% of people pay with them)
and the reason is probably that as credit card issuers pick up costs related to fraud, users
don't care about security. And people are so accustomed to paying with a card that trying
something new for the sake of security and a minimal increase in convenience isn't worth the
But this is only one thing NFC can be used for and it's not the most appealing. For example,
I'm as cheap as anyone when it comes to using less cellular data, but getting into the Wi-Fi
network at most stores is truly annoying, so I don't. But if retailers, coffee shops and the
like put NFC tags on tables, a wall, or some other conspicuous place, I'd just have to tap
the tag with the phone and I'd be connected. Yes, it's that simple, but have you ever seen
NFC tags anywhere? I haven't – and I've looked.
And how about this: A liquor store chain put NFC tags on the shelves to let customers who
aren't wine connoisseurs open a Web page to learn about every wine or liquor in the store.
It's a whole lot easier than using a QR code. A huge number of things NFC can be performed
with NFC but whether they're ever developed remains to be seen. So far it doesn't look promising.
Project Loon Helps Puerto Rico
has gotten the OK from the FCC to deploy its solar-powered Project Loon balloon-based Web
service to help restore cellular service to Puerto Rico. It's been used before after heavy
flooding in Peru where its balloons managed to provide basic Internet connectivity to tens
of thousands of people. As this was written, millions of people in Puerto Rico were still
without any way to communicate to the U.S. or elsewhere. The FCC said Alphabet (Google's parent
company) has consent agreements to use the spectrum of Puerto Rico carriers and will work
on starting commercial service using its balloons. The company has flown them almost 12 million
miles in test flights.
Target Lights up Its Marketing
is about to deploy the world's largest lighting-based indoor positioning system using Bluetooth
mesh with ICs embedded in LED ceiling lights from Acuity Brands. Target will send signals
to shoppers' phones and using the company's app the phones will display an interactive map
that guides people around the aisles. Target was initially considering visible communication
(VLC) that uses modulated light rather than RF. Bluetooth's location accuracy is only about
8 ft. while VLC can pinpoint something to within 10 in. but the phone must be pointing at
Radar Shows Interesting Returns
detects birds, locusts, and grasshoppers but meteorologists at the National Weather Service
in Colorado recently saw a huge swarm of butterflies near Denver. NWS posted an image on social
media and asked people if they could identify the kind of bird forming the swarm but people
in the area responded that the swarm was actually butterflies. They were identified as painted
ladies, which look like the legendary monarch and have been massing along Colorado's Front
Range over the past few weeks to feed on flowers.
U.S. Mobile Data Speed Ranking: 59th
U.S. is far from setting records in mobile data, at an average of 15 Mb/s. The top four are
Singapore at 45.62, South Korea with 43.4, Hungary with 42.61 and Norway with 41.36 Mb/s.
The U.S. is 59th. Although U.S. speeds have increased every year, they're doing so at a comparative
snail's pace. However, the country is also far larger than the Top Four combined and has a
much larger population and huge rural areas where service is mediocre at best.
Check out Our Filter Products
LC Band Pass Filters Cavity Bandstop/Notch Filter
About Anatech Electronics
Anatech Electronics, Inc. (AEI) specializes in the design and manufacture of standard and
custom RF and microwave filters and other passive components and subsystems employed in commercial,
industrial, and aerospace and applications. Products are available from an operating frequency
range of 10 kHz to 30 GHz and include cavity, ceramic, crystal, LC, and surface acoustic wave
(SAW), as well as power combiners/dividers, duplexers and diplexers, directional couplers,
terminations, attenuators, circulators, EMI filters, and lightning arrestors. The company's
custom products and capabilities are available at
Anatech Electronics, Inc.
70 Outwater Lane
Garfield, NJ 07026
Posted October 20, 2017