Harnessing the Power of NFC — iLOQ, a Case Study

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Harnessing the Power of NFC — iLOQ, a Case Study

iLOQ is a Finnish company that recently developed an NFC-based, self-powering electronic lock. Read about their story and consider taking advantage of a similar solution for developing your next IoT device.

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iLOQ is a Finnish company dedicated to developing smart locking systems. Their particular forte lies in the creation of self-powered digital locking systems—solving the problems of efficiency (battery consumption) and the need for regular maintenance (battery replacement)—while their desired market aims to provide large scale industrial/commercial/infrastructure solutions.

I find what they’re accomplishing especially noteworthy because of their commitment to self-powered mechanics, short range connectivity solutions, and price-conscious decision making, all of which are key innovations pertinent to IoT development.

In 2007, iLOQ introduced the world’s first self-powered digital lock (iLOQ S10), known for its ability to harvest electricity generated from key insertion to provide power for the fully programmable locking system. Building on that success, they’ve just announced iLOQ NFC, the world’s first electronic lock that self-powers by harvesting electricity from NFC induction. This one-of-a-kind enhancement enables smart phones to act as both keys and generators for the locks, without the lock requiring any batteries or cables—thus, no maintenance and maximum efficiency. When asked how the NFC-powering mechanism works, iLOQ CEO, Mika Pukari, responded:

When a phone with the iLOQ App finds an iLOQ lock it proceeds standard NFC communication with the lock which is acting as a standard NFC tag. During the communication the lock harvests electric power to two capacitors, the first one is used to set the lock to an openable state and the second one is used to set the lock to a locked state after a predefined time.

Check out the video below for a visual representation of the system in action.

Whether you are interested in smart locking systems or not, the choice to utilize an NFC connection is something that more IoT developers should consider taking advantage of. When asked why they chose NFC over Bluetooth, iLOQ answered:

"Bluetooth technology always requires a power source, batteries or cabling for the lock. Its long read range may cause unintentional lock opening in crowded locations–and, of course, that is undesirable. NFC technology limits communication to a short distance and this eliminates the possibility of unintentional opening. The choice of NFC technology means that the phone can also work as the power source for the smart lock. We share a strong belief that, in the near future, NFC technology will be a basic feature in all smartphones."

And, when asked about NFC security, they explained:

"NFC is just a platform for establishing communication between two devices. NFC requires additional methods to be secure. iLOQ NFC provides state-of-the-art security as it utilizes PKI (Public Key Infrastructure), mutual authentication, and strong AES-256 encryption (the highest Advanced Encryption Standard). Our level of security is similar to that of online payments."

So, by offering a zero maintenance/highly efficient solution that doesn’t challenge security confidence, iLOQ is able to save on costs while not losing any performance. The more IoT engineers that develop solutions to overcome the hurdle of power consumption while maintaining reliability, the better off the space will be.

Could NFC be the key to your low-power (or even self-charging) IoT solution?

iot, iot development, iot examples, nfc

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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