There are many factors to be considered when you consider to bring your physical products into the digital world. On this page we address a number of the commonly asked questions. The answers to these will help you to cam to some initial directions. We are available to consult you during your journey to the digital business in the physical world.

What is Near Field Communication (NFC)?

NFC is a set of short-range wireless technologies, typically requiring a separation of 10 cm or less. NFC operates at 13.56 MHz on ISO/IEC 18000-3 air interface and at rates ranging from 106 kbit/s to 424 kbit/s. NFC always involves an initiator and a target; the initiator actively generates an RF field that can power a passive target. This enables NFC targets to take very simple form factors such as unpowered tags, stickers, key fobs, or cards. NFC peer-to-peer communication is possible, provided both devices are powered.

NFC tags contain data and are typically read-only, but may be writable. They can be custom-encoded by their manufacturers or use NFC Forum specifications. The tags can securely store personal data such as debit and credit card information, loyalty program data, PINs and networking contacts, among other information. The NFC Forum defines four types of tags that provide different communication speeds and capabilities in terms of configurability, memory, security, data retention and write endurance. Tags currently offer between 96 and 4,096 bytes of memory.

As with proximity card technology, NFC uses inductive coupling between two nearby loop antennas effectively forming an air-core transformer. Because the distances involved are tiny compared to the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation (radio waves) of that frequency (about 22 meters), the interaction is described as near field. Only an alternating magnetic field is involved so that almost no power is actually radiated in the form of radio waves (which are electromagnetic waves, also involving an oscillating electric field); that essentially prevents interference between such devices and any radio communications at the same frequency or with other NFC devices much beyond its intended range. They operate within the globally available and unlicensed radio frequency ISM band of 13.56 MHz. Most of the RF energy is concentrated in the ±7 kHz bandwidth allocated for that band, but the emission’s spectral width can be as wide as 1.8 MHz[41] in order to support high data rates.

Working distance with compact standard antennas and realistic power levels could be up to about 20 cm (but practically speaking, working distances never exceed 10 cm). Note that because the pickup antenna may be quenched by nearby metallic surfaces, the tags may require a minimum separation from such surfaces.

What is Public Digital Identity (pdi)?

Public Digital Identity (pdi) is the name for the string of data that are programmed in the memory of an NFC chip. IdeAtics has granted patents in the US and Europe that describe this technology. Other players in the market are using similar or the same technology. Also some standards like the ‘smart poster’ use case of NFC forum and the Digital Link of GS1 are leveraging the IdeAtics patents. The essence is that a URL or URI is programmed in the tag. This same URL/URI represents a webpage that contains relevant functionalities and reference to data. This bootstrapping of a simple, static URL/URI to a rich interactive webpage is the basic technology principle on which the IdeAtics Public Domain Idetification and the IdeAtics IoT platform is operating.

What is the difference between QR and NFC?

Both QR as well as NFC are able to store an URL/URI. With this Public Domain Identity the IdeAtics IoT platform is able to operate. The big difference between the two is the price and the so called ‘line of sight’. For lower value products, the QR code can be printed on a label at a low cost. Therefore the design of the product is impacted and for the user it means that a camera of the mobile device needs to be directed to the QR code in order to be able to read. For higher value goods, where the design of the products should not be impacted, the NFC tage can be embedded in the ‘mother’ material of the product. This way it is also harder to remove the identity from the product. It is important to evaluate the design and functional criteria when making decisions on creating digital identities. 

What is blockchain?

A blockchain, originally block chain, is a growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a Merkle tree).

By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”. For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority. Although blockchain records are not unalterable, blockchains may be considered secure by design and exemplify a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault tolerance. Decentralized consensus has therefore been claimed with a blockchain.

Blockchain was invented by a person (or group of people) using the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 to serve as the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency bitcoin. The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is unknown. The invention of the blockchain for bitcoin made it the first digital currency to solve the double-spending problem without the need of a trusted authority or central server. The bitcoin design has inspired other applications, and blockchains that are readable by the public are widely used by cryptocurrencies. Blockchain is considered a type of payment rail. Private blockchains have been proposed for business use.