NXP – NFC Cube with smartphone app demonstrates simple implementation of secure access control


NXP Semiconductors provides an NFC demonstration system, called the NFC Cube, which shows the ease with which highly secure and convenient systems for conditional access control can be implemented.

Conditional access control, in which entry into secured spaces is restricted to authorised people, plays an important role in people-movement systems. NFC is an ideal technology for the implementation of access control:

• it is simple for the user, who just has to present or tap an individual NFC tag, access token or smart card on an NFC reader
• it is secure, because the read range – typically up to 6cm – makes wireless snooping or cloning physically almost impossible

The NFC Cube is based on NXP‘s PN7462, an NFC microcontroller with an ARM® Cortex®-M0 core. It can read all NFC Forum tags and cards, and communicate with any card that uses any version of the ISO/IEC 14443 or 15693 protocols.

NXP’s NFC Cube is itself a demonstration system for use in customer presentations, but for OEM development NXP offers a broad selection of low-cost NFC development boards, which designers can use to implement a reader system with similar functionality by basing their design on NXP’s NFC controllers or NFC front-end ICs.

Alternatively, Future Electronics also supplies a wide range of off-the-shelf NFC reader modules from manufacturers such as Murata and Laird, which are shipped with full NFC approval and wireless certification, and which eliminate the need for the OEM to design any RF circuitry or implement protocol software.

The NFC Cube is backed by an app for NFC-capable smartphones based on the AndroidTM operating environment, and which is available on the Google PlayTM store. In the NFC Cube demonstration system, this app may be used to instantly configure any NFC tag, such as a smart NFC label supplied by Smartrac, with a unique identity given by the NFC Cube. When the tag is then presented to the NFC Cube, its display acknowledges that the tag is recognised.

This shows that a user authentication and access control system based on an NFC reader and very low-cost NFC tags or labels can be implemented very quickly and simply.

The NFC Cube can also be used to implement contactless communication with a microcontroller via the NXP NTAG I2C plus, a smart NFC tag which provides an I2C interface and harvested energy to any microcontroller.

• High RF output power
• 848kbits/s maximum data transfer rate
• 160kbytes of Flash memory
• Interface for ISO/IEC 7816 contact cards
• USB2.0 Full-Speed interface
• Random number generator