‘True’ NFC hardware independence brought to Google Android “Gingerbread”, claims INSIDE Secure

INSIDE Secure, a provider of semiconductor solutions for secure transactions and digital identity, has announced the availability of a new version of its award-winning, open-source Open NFC™ protocol stack geared to the latest version of Google Android™ (aka Gingerbread). This makes Open NFC the first truly hardware-independent, open-source NFC protocol stack for this popular smartphone operating system.

Open NFC version 4.2 for Google Android 2.3 simplifies interoperability and provides the NFC ecosystem with a consistent NFC application programming interface (API) and functionality, offering chip vendors, smartphone manufacturers, wireless carriers and software developers a way to implement NFC functionality independently of the underlying NFC hardware as Gingerbread is adopted for use in a broad range of mobile products around the world.

“Open NFC relies on a separate, very thin and easily adaptable hardware abstraction software layer, which accounts for a very small percentage of the total stack code, meaning that the Open NFC software stack can be easily leveraged for different NFC chip hardware,” said Philippe Martineau, executive vice president of the NFC business line for INSIDE Secure. “This has tremendous cost, time-to-market and flexibility advantages for NFC chip vendors, smartphone manufacturers and software developers who would otherwise have to contend with rewriting the hardware-specific elements of the Gingerbread NFC protocol stack.”

According to Martineau, because the current Gingerbread NFC stack embeds code that is dedicated to specific hardware throughout the stack and is not confined to a thin hardware-specific layer, a substantial portion of the stack would have to be rewritten to adapt the stack to a different NFC controller or combo connectivity chip. With its separate hardware abstraction software layer, adapting the Open NFC stack to new hardware is much simpler as the hardware dependencies are well layered and the overall code base to adapt is significantly smaller.

Since it was introduced last year, the Open NFC protocol stack has quickly become recognized as the cost-effective, open-standards NFC middleware solution for mobile phones, embedded products and other devices, and has received significant industry support from a broad array of participants in the NFC ecosystem. Originally developed for INSIDE’s third-generation MicroRead® NFC controller and SecuRead® solution with embedded secure element, the Open NFC protocol stack brings proven, high quality, well-documented NFC software into the open source arena.

Open NFC received a prestigious Sesames Award for software at the recent Cartes & Identification 2010 after it was judged by a panel of experts to represent a genuine breakthrough that brings significant benefits to OEMs and ODMs creating NFC mobile phones, embedded products and other devices.

Open NFC supports several levels of functionality, from low-level RF control to high-level NFC Forum tag handling, peer-to-peer communications as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi pairing, interactions with single-wire protocol SIMs and other secure elements and compatibility with smart cards and RFID tags based on Felica, Mifare and ISO 14443 standards. By providing a consistent API across all NFC hardware, the open-source Open NFC protocol stack improves the interoperability of all NFC devices.

Availability and Pricing

Open NFC 4.2 for Android 2.3/2.4 will be available for download on the INSIDE Secure Open NFC website by the end of February as a free and open-source edition under the Apache(TM) License, Version 2.0.