The development comes from Sharp Japan. The company has recently revealed a new product: a transparent NFC antenna which can be inbuilt into a device’s display. The antenna can turn any display into a payment and authentication interface. This is achieved simply by positioning an NFC-compatible smartphone or IC-card over the display.
The development is part of the advancement of near-field communication (NFC). This concerns a set of communication protocols which allow two electronic devices, one of which is typically a portable device like a smartphone, to establish communication. This happens when one device is brought within 4 centimers (1.6 inches) of each other. An example is Google Wallet, which enables consumers to store credit card and store loyalty card information in a virtual wallet.
A key application of NFC devices is in retail, and this is the basis of contactless payment technology. In addition, NFC is used for social networking, such as for sharing contacts, photographs, videos and files.
There are limitations with NFC. It can only provide a low-speed and short-distance connection, and it is not as capable as wireless connections.
With the new transparent NFC antenna development from Sharp, expected in 2019, the device is constructed with finely screen-printed silver lines, which was achieved by layering “metal mesh technology”. This type of coating is mainly used for making touch panels.
The antenna function provides additional power for unlike radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which require touching a card onto a tag, the large area antenna boots the operational distance up to 3.5 centimeters. Moreover, the assessed response times are just under one second.
In terms of operations, EE News Europe reports, the multiple invisibly integrated NFC antennas, which is spread across a large-size display, serves to divide the screen into multiple NFC-capable areas and these identify which part of the screen is being used for NFC communication. The significance of this is that users, assuming they are online shopping, would no longer need to tap an NFC reader only a demarcated area of the screen. Instead a user can tap directly on a catalog item that they intend to purchase online. The aim here is to create a more intuitive user experience.
In a different example, when out shopping, a person would be able to directly access NFC-labelled product information from information displays, provided the store is equipped with suitable terminals.