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Using NFC and Bluetooth® to support new 'Beacon' use cases

Using NFC and Bluetooth® to support new 'Beacon' use cases

Combining near-field communication (NFC) with Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) wireless communications offers new possibilities and enhanced levels of flexibility for portable electronics. And one application area that could benefit from the integration of these two communications methods is that of 'beacon' technology.

Beacons are low-cost, BLE-enabled short-range micro-location applications designed to communicate with 'beacon-enabled' mobile devices. Beacons demand ultra-low power operation – each typically relying on a compact coin cell Li-Ion battery that will run the BLE transmitter for an extended period (months or possibly even years) without replacement. Within a retail environment, beacons can direct customers to specific items or allow stores to target customers with specific promotions. At large sporting events or concerts they could be used to direct people to their allocated seats, or show them where refreshments can be purchased. Museums and art galleries could use beacons to help visitors find a particular exhibit or artwork, while beacons can help businesses to better track and locate key assets.
 

Conventionally beacons have used BLE technology to provide short-range broadcasting of information (such as a URL or location coordinates), By integrating NFC, however, other options ad use cases become possible. Take, for example, the updating of beacon software and content over-the-air via BLE. Initiating a connection to a beacon using NFC is much more straightforward than pairing by Bluetooth. Furthermore, it has a higher degree of security, due to the inherent insusceptibility to interception. Upon completion of the pairing process, fully secure AES-128 encrypted Bluetooth communication can be employed for carrying out the update.
 

To learn more about the potential of secure NFC-based pairing and its combination with BLE technology, download the Toshiba white paper 'Deploying Bluetooth® Low Energy and NFC for Secure Connections and easy Pairing'.

Click here to learn more about the potential of secure NFC-based pairing and its combination with BLE technology

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