Bluetooth, NFC pairing together
With the slowdown to Christmas and then the business leading up to and through CES, the December 19th announcement that the Bluetooth SIG and NFC Forum would work together, with the publication of "Bluetooth Secure Simple Pairing Using NFC," has flown somewhat under the radar of some, yet should provide immediate benefits to both technologies.
Historically NFC has been slow to penetrate into the mobile phone, the single biggest CE device. Primarily positioned as a solution for contactless payment, NFC’s adoption has been hindered by a still unclear picture as to how the mobile payment market will evolve; only 2.3% of handsets shipped with NFC in 2011. However, aside from contactless payment, another notable use case offered through NFC is simple and secure pairing, and this may be a route that helps accelerate the technologies penetration into the phone market.
Conversely, Bluetooth is now ubiquitous in the handset market. However, whilst the technology is present, continued efforts have been made to improve intuitive pairing between devices via Bluetooth. The recent release of Bluetooth Smart (a low energy version of Bluetooth for sensor type devices) has opened the door for opportunities for the use of Bluetooth in a raft of different applications, from heart rate monitors to proximity tags to PC peripherals. Having a simple and intuitive method for pairing with the host device (i.e. smartphone) is critical to ensure a positive user experience.
This simplified pairing will also prove beneficial in existing Bluetooth enabled applications such as headsets and automotive, a combined 82M Bluetooth-enabled device market in 2012. Nokia has recently released both its Luna headset, and Play 360 external speakers – capable of connecting via Bluetooth with NFC pairing. Also, at the start of the year, a number of car manufacturers joined with Nokia and Samsung and other electronics companies in the formation of the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), looking at opportunities for NFC and wireless charging in the car.
Therefore this partnership is expected to not only improve the experience for the Bluetooth user, but also drive further growth of NFC amongst handset manufacturers.