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NFC-connected Phone as a User Interface? There's an App For That! – Hands On

September 23, 2019, to September 27, 2019
Continuing Education Center

Charles J. Lord

Charles J. Lord, PE is an embedded systems consultant and trainer with over 40 years' experience in system design and development in medical, military, and industrial applications. For the last... More

End Users for devices, particularly the "things" of the IoT, are demanding more sophisticated user interfaces for devices. At the same time, the user's expectation is that more and more things can be controlled by a phone (or tablet) app. During this session, we will present the design steps necessary for both the device side and phone side of a Near-Field Communication (NFC)-based user application for controlling a device on the IoT. NFC can offer many advantages for a user interface. For example, there are no openings in the device for switches or displays; the device is tamper-resistant once the phone is removed; and a sophisticated graphical user interface can be implemented with no parts costs for touchscreen displays on the devices themselves. Participants will be encouraged to follow along with the project and the project files will be shared as the class progresses.


To participate with the hands-on aspect of the class, you will need:

  • NFC-capable android phone (cell connectivity is not needed so you can use an old phone if you wish)
  • PC running Windows 7 or 10
  • A generic NFC smart card (old hotel key or similar) – available from Digi-Key 1528-2798-ND
  • NXP NTAG 12C Plus Explorer Kit – Digi-Key 568-12907-ND

September 27 – Day 5 – Putting it All Together

For our final class, we will use the NXP NTAG Explorer kit to read and write the tag’s info that we access with our app to close the loop between the phone and our embedded device. We will look at the tradeoffs and areas for improvement for the future use of this user interface.
September 27, 2019 - 2:00pm EDT

September 24 – Day 2 – An NFC Primer and Introducing the NXP NTAG

Our second day will be spent learning the basics of Near-Field Communication (NFC) and what the standard specifies for various classes of passive transponder tags. We will define the tag type we will use and what parameters we need to pass back and forth, as well as what security structure we need...
September 24, 2019 - 2:00pm EDT
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