About this project
What is MicroNFCBoard?
MicroNFCBoard is an integrated development platform that makes it easy to use Near Field Communication or NFC (What is NFC? see below for more info). It contains a NFC transceiver, a microcontroller and all the software you need to use NFC.
It can be used with an Arduino, Raspberry Pi, mbed or PC/Mac. There is also a powerful ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller onboard so it can work on its own and you can connect a bunch of things to the board using its various peripherals.
What NFC features does the board support?
The board supports the three main NFC modes with a straightforward API (no need to be a NFC expert):
- Tag reading/writing (types 1, 2, 3 and 4)
- Peer-to-peer (Android Beam/SNEP)
- Tag emulation (type 4)
You can select which mode to use or you can enable multiple modes at once (for instance tag reading and peer-to-peer).
The software shipped with the board allows you to encode or decode NFC data in the following formats (NDEF - NFC Data Exchange Format):
- Bluetooth pairing info
- MIME Type + data
In tag reading/writing mode, you can communicate with passive NFC tags.
Tag emulation allows you to emulate a NFC tag and encode its content when the reader/writer (a phone for instance) on the other end tries to read it.
In peer-to-peer mode (Android Beam-compatible) you can send and receive messages over NFC.
What is it compatible with?
MicroNFCBoard is compatible with:
- Arduino - we will provide an Arduino library; your Arduino can be connected to the board via the SPI bus
- Raspberry Pi, PC & MAC - we will provide a Python library to control the board via USB
- mbed - we will provide a mbed C++ API
- It can be used on its own by programming the onboard ARM micro-controller
For each platform we will provide a set of demo programs.
What about some demos?
So far we have built the following demos (featured in our video):
- Piloting a robot with NFC tags
- Transferring a Youtube video from an Android phone to a Raspberry Pi
- Controlling a mood lamp in real time with an Android phone
- Visualising light and temperature sensors’ data in real-time with an Android phone
- Log in to your Raspberry Pi using NFC tags or your NFC phone (see video below)
Is it open source?
If the campaign is successful we will release the board's firmware under an open-source license. We will also make the board's schematics and design open-source too.
How is it different from other boards?
Many NFC-enabled boards (mostly built around the PN532 chip) and readers are available online, however the software that can be used with them is very limited, especially with an Arduino. MicroNFCBoard has an onboard microcontroller that takes care of all NFC-related processing (including critical timings) and offers support for all NFC modes with an easy to use API. You can also add your own code on the microcontroller to use the board in an autonomous fashion! Finally, we will provide AppNearMe mode which is unique.
What is AppNearMe mode?
AppNearMe mode allows you to easily visualise your device's inputs and control its outputs through a NFC-enabled Android app. You only have to "describe" these inputs/outputs in your code and choose which type of widgets to display on the app. AppNearMe mode makes it really easy to add an external UI to your project.
How can I program the onboard microcontroller?
The board is mbed-enabled, which means you can use the mbed online IDE and libraries to create programs for the board. To flash the board, connect it to your computer via USB and it will appear as a mass storage device onto which you can drag 'n' drop your program.
This example shows how to receive content from Android Beam (SNEP). This is the low level code that runs on the board but our high-level API will be made simpler.
What is NFC?
Near Field Communication or NFC is a radio technology that allows two devices to exchange data by touching each other.
More info can be found here on Wikipedia.
What are the board's specs?
NXP PN512 NFC transceiver
- Full NFC Forum compliant solution
- Reader/Writer mode supporting ISO14443A/Mifare and FeliCa scheme
- Card Operation mode supporting ISO14443A/Mifare and FeliCa scheme
- NFCIP-1 mode
NXP LPC11U34FHN33/421 MCU
- 48MHz, 10KB RAM, 48KB FLASH, 4KB EEPROM
- USB Device, SPI, I2C, UART, 4xADC, GPIO
- 20-pin 0.1" pitch DIP package, 35x100mm
- Splittable antenna
- 5V USB, 3.6-6V or 3.3V supply
- Built-in USB drag 'n' drop FLASH programmer
- Reset and bootloader enable push-buttons
- 2 LEDs on board
mbed.org Developer Website
- Lightweight Online Compiler
- High level C/C++ SDK
- Cookbook of published libraries and projects
Partner for the Japanese market
We partnered with Switch Science to provide documentation and support for the Japanese Market. You might know them already as they manufacture the Rapiro robot! Once the Kickstarter campaign's delivery is complete they will be manufacturing and distributing MicroNFCBoard for the Japanese market using a Sony NFC transceiver.
On successful completion of the campaign - August
We will arrange the manufacturing of a limited pre-production batch with our manufacturer to ensure that everything is set for production. We will also submit our test plan and ship some testing devices for the manufacturer to use on the production lines. If the preproduction run is satisfactory we will place the order for the factory to start production!
At the same time we will ship all NFC tag rewards and hand soldered boards. We will be working with London-based RapidNFC to deliver you some nice NFC tags.
We will ship the boards as soon as the first batch is out of the manufacturer's factory.
Android is a trademark of Google Inc.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge lies with the hardware manufacturing. We have been in touch with a manufacturer, and once the campaign ends we will get them to do a test run with a few boards. If the test run is successful we will launch production. However if there are some issues we might have to modify the board slightly, which could delay delivery by up to one month. We have taken this contingency into account in the estimated delivery dates.
To make sure that every board that is shipped is fully functional we have elaborated a test plan and will refine it in partnership with the manufacturer.
In terms of components sourcing, the only two parts that cannot easily be swapped are the microcontroller (LPC11U34) and the NFC transceiver (PN512). Both these parts are in "active" marketing status and can be ordered from multiple distributors.
All the core functionality of our software (NFC and USB) has already been implemented and tested. There are still some features and libraries that need to be developed or polished but these will be fairly straightforward to implement. If bugs arise the software can still be upgraded after the boards are shipped through the USB drag 'n' drop programming feature.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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