Intellectual Technologies Set

coordinated by
Jean-Max Noyer and Maryse Carmes

Volume 3

The Art and Science of NFC Programming

Anne-Marie Lesas

Serge Miranda

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“The main rule is to please and touch.

All others are made only to achieve this first one”.


Even if the NFC standard is young (developed in 2004), I have been asked to write this book for several years now, due to the pioneering role played in France (and in Europe) by our Computer Science Master’s degree MBDS ( at the University of Nice – Sophia-Antipolis around the prototyping of innovative services using this standard. MBDS prototyped NFC services in all sectors of economic life: from tourism and culture in Nice, to social payment in India, via campuses in Haiti, museums, airports, hotels, connected houses in Morocco and electric cars in Sophia Antipolis. In 2009, the city of Nice was the first for the deployment of NFC standard in Europe, because of the MBDS innovation research lab.

After half a dozen books published on databases, I was not really eager to write a new book. My first collection of books, following Knuth’s book (The Art of Computer Programming), my bedside reading as a fellowship student in California, was entitled “The Art of Databases”.

What changed my mind was the enthusiasm of Anne-Marie Lesas, who was working on her PhD on NFC secure services with our industrial partner Gemalto under a CIFRE convention1 from the ANRT2 and of an IFCPAR contract3 ( on NFC virtual social currency in India with TATA Consultancy Services (CS) and Bangalore University, as well as a scientific expertise on NFC patent infringement in the United States in 2015. As a brilliant former MBDS student after a professional career, Anne-Marie first showed passion for mobiquitous new technologies (NFC cars, and means of detecting earthquakes by using smartphone sensors). What a delight for a professor, who is nothing but a dream purveyor, to see a student take over.

The title of this book implies the duality of “Art” and “Science”, which are the two approaches to perception and understanding of the world; in prefaces to database books, I would write: “the word art refers to a way of investigation, recreation and interpretation of the real world in opposition to the science which bears an abstract interpretation, based on formal concepts, models and tools”. Creativity on NFC applications is unlimited with mobiquitous usages that reinvent the real world by creating new bridges toward the virtual world; these applications are based on strict standardized concepts that we explain, along with their implementation methods. Dealing with this duality is the double purpose of this book.

In this way, this book is the result of a pedagogical encounter between a professor and a researcher in order to allow other IT developers to contribute to changing the world by touching it! I would thus like to thank Anne-Marie for her professional and human skills and, through her, all students who, by their enthusiasm, lead me toward a process of never-ending, spiral innovation. Creativity on content and services is a beautiful spiralist adventure that brings life (special thanks to Franketienne for this beautiful concept of spiralism, which we shared and discussed in Port au Prince).

I would like to invite readers to dream about their life, to have big dreams while keeping in mind that new technologies must first and foremost serve the good of humankind and the improvement of shared environments, and of the lives of each of us. “Always put man at the center” and do not hesitate to be “a nonconformist, even an innovation anarchist” as shown by Pierre Laffite, the founder of Sophia-Antipolis Science park.

I also have a thought for my friend and colleague, pioneer of all types of databases (and Big Data), Mike Stonebraker, godfather of one of the first MBDS classes and winner of the Turing Award in 2014, who would always stress applied research in information systems, with the obsession of always trying to solve concrete problems and not to only stick to simple theoretical intellectual constructions disconnected from reality.

This book has a double purpose, which corresponds to its two main parts; it aims both toward:

This book is for IT engineers (IT generalists as much as students in Bachelor’s or Master’s programs) who are passionate about new technologies and curious about the use of NFC, particularly in mobile applications; our goal is to explain the technical and functional specificities of the NFC standard through notions essential to the understanding of the ecosystem, its mobile implementation (with Android) and its main applications.

With this book, we hope to give the reader autonomy in order for him to design and develop his own NFC applications. Innovation is invention meeting usage: innovate with this invention by imagining new practices.

To conclude this foreword, I will borrow two quotes I often use to end my conferences:

Enjoy this book and enjoy NFC programming, I wish for you to become a communactor ant, open to the world to change it.

Professor Serge MIRANDA


“The primary form of sense is touch, which belongs to all animals. […]

The sense of touch is necessarily the one whose loss causes the death of living beings”.


With the near field communication (NFC) standard, an NFC-enabled mobile phone acquires Aristotle’s sense of touch.

NFC is a global standard of contactless and very short field (proximity) communication (a few inches) created by Philips, Sony and Nokia in 2004 (three major players and leaders in consumer electronics). The NFC standard is one of the 16 radiofrequency identification standards bringing a unique identification to each tagged object known since the 1940s and a wireless reading (through radiofrequency). Today NFC, which is widespread in smart cards (for access, payment and transportation), has been universally chosen by all smartphone manufacturers since 2014, thus allowing new mobile phone uses.

This NFC standard has three operating modes: reader/writer, card emulation and peer-to-peer; with a simple touch on an NFC-enabled device, a tap (hence the tap’n play paradigm) on a tag or on another NFC-enabled device, we can:

An NFC-enabled mobile phone can thus be seen as a universal connector that increases the phone’s sensory capacities. After speaking/listening, reading and viewing (pictures, text messages, e-posts in social networks), thanks to NFC, mobile phones will allow us to touch in order to validate an access, get information, exchange content or pay. This interaction mode, which is non-intrusive and intuitive, leads the way to a portfolio of innovative services.

“The NFC smartphone has won the battle of the pocket”! Anything which was in your pockets or your purse will now have a dematerialized version in your mobile: cash, debit and credit cards, loyalty program cards, keys, camera, MP3 player, etc. By the end of 2015, half of the planet (3.5 billion people) owned a smartphone, with a sustained deployment growth rate, all the more with Indian advertisements in the beginning of 2016. Half of these smartphones are NFC enabled. This also means that the 2 billion people with no bank account who own a smartphone will be able to benefit from financial services: new mobile payment actors will arise beyond the banks! The banker is…in your pocket!

In biology, life is defined as a pair: information and communication. Thanks to a simple touch, NFC-enabled phones introduce communication toward a remote server carrying the story of this object. Any object with an NFC tag touched by a NFC-enabled mobile phone thus becomes, biologically speaking, a living object. In the future, information systems will have to include this aspect of objects which become living objects.

NFC standard thus allows objects to become living objects, and the places where they are located become smart places: check the virtual user guide of a device, automatically setup an environment and personal preferences, launch a scheduled washing program or open the door of your house with your smartphone with a simple tap, among others, using NFC. Through a simple proximity gesture (less than 1 inch), NFC induces the user’s desire to interact and create a link between the real world and the virtual world to make augmented or diminished reality. The use of NFC-enabled mobile phones is one of the supports allowing the accurate location of a user; in this way, we can envision a portfolio of geolocated, personalized and contextualized services.

NFC-enabled mobile phones are carried by a digital revolution that puts people at the center of the interaction between the real world and the virtual world: the owner of an NFC smartphone potentially becomes a Homo mobiquitus, a communactor, i.e. a data contributor (consumer and producer) to the common space in bottom-up mode [MIR 14a, MIR 14b].

We have reached a new era of information systems at the convergence of mobile phones (which have become computers with smartphones) and the ubiquity of the Internet (which has become social with broadband); we sum up, according to Xavier Dallos, with the portmanteau word mobiquity. All of the economic sector and the three individual spheres (public, private, professional) will be impacted by mobiquity.

With NFC, the following new multidisciplinary concepts have emerged: mobiquity, Homo mobiquitus, communactors, one-tap marketing, mobiquitous tourism (from the former “max min” to the future “mini max”), mobiquitous currency (cash is no longer the latest payment link), spiralist innovation, the “Assistants Mobiquitaires InformationnelS (AMIS)” (Mobiquitous Informational Assistants) or the “mobile cyber cafe” in Haïti.

NFC is a breakthrough innovation leading the way to new services and to new architectures of information systems that bring new business models. Spiralist innovation is at the heart of NFC thinking. As creativity on usage is unlimited, it is up to us to innovate and create new applications with this global NFC standard acting as a universal connector between the real world and the virtual world in a non-intrusive way: “the sky is the limit!”

Professor Serge MIRANDA
October 2016


Based on radiofrequency identification tested during the Second World War, near-field communication (NFC) standards became global in 2004 after several years of prototyping and development.

Beyond the fact that it is an open standard, NFC has many advantages; it is an economic technology enabling dynamic multimodel interaction which can be summarized by “3S”: Security, Speed and Simplicity. Just by enabling your smartphone, you are able to interact with the real world and enrich it with all information from the virtual world.

Objects with an NFC tag become communicating and biologically alive: the simple gesture of a tap allows NFC-enabled smartphones to collect and exchange information, to pair two devices allowing them to communicate, to open a door or to pay for something.

This work is divided into three chapters, showing NFC as an essential link in the chain of the future’s mobiquitous information systems: