Sony, Philips to develop new networking technology

Japan’s Sony Corp. and the Netherlands’ Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV will jointly develop a new short-range radio-frequency communication technology, the two companies announced Thursday.

The Near Field Communication (NFC) technology will use a 13.56 MHz radio frequency band for wireless transfer of data between electronic devices such as mobile phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), PCs and game consoles, across a distance of up to twenty centimetres, according to a statement issued by the two companies.

A data transfer speed of up to 212K bps (bits per second) means that NFC is compatible with Sony’s Felica and Philips’ Mifare contactless IC (integrated circuit) smart card technologies, the companies said.

The Mifare system is used by Visa International Service Association for its credit card and transit card systems worldwide. Sony’s Felica is used for transit card systems in China, Singapore and Japan. Sony also provides an electronic money system using Felica in Japan, they said.

Sony and Philips hope NFC-compliant devices incorporating smart-key and smart card reader functions will be used for services such as payment, ticketing and accessing online entertainment game content. For example, when a user wants to purchase a concert ticket or music content using an NFC-compliant mobile phone, payment can be made by holding a smart money card near the phone.

“The NFC technology can replace infrared network technology or USB (Universal Serial Bus) cables,” said Naoki Fujita, a Sony spokesman. Sony and Philips hope to commercialize the technology by the beginning of 2004, and plan to invite other companies to develop NFC-compliant products, he said.