How to Write an NFC Tag with an iPhone

It’s exciting news that Apple has enabled iPhone 7 and newer to write to NFC tags with the release of iOS 13 on September 19, 2019.

Here is some background to explain why this is exciting for the NFC world. Near Field Communication (NFC) is a technology that enables wireless data transfer in close proximity. The first NFC-enabled mobile phone was released in 2006 by Nokia and the first Android NFC-enabled phone was released in 2010. Shortly after that, we could use Android phone to read/write NFC tags.

NFC tags are passive devices used to communicate with active NFC devices. At the heart of every NFC tag is an NFC chip. It contains a small memory storage chip and a radio chip attached to an antenna. It does not require a power source and can be powered up by an NFC device through a magnetic field.

Apple’s NFC adoption has been slower than the anticipation of the NFC ecosystem.

  • In 2014, NFC was adopted for the Apple’s mobile payment (Apple Pay) for iPhone 6
  • In 2017, iOS 11 enabled iPhone 7 and newer to read NFC tags through an app.
  • In 2018, iPhone Xs and XR were enabled to read NFC tags natively.
  • In 2019, iOS 13 enables iPhone 7 and newer for writing NFC tags through an app.

The fact that iPhone users can write to NFC tags will significantly move the NFC ecosystem forward. For example, Germany will soon be using Apple-approved NFC ID documents and letting German citizens use their phones as their ID cards.

How to write an NFC tag with an iPhone

1.     Choose a standard NDEF formatted tag. [1]

2.     Download an NFC writer app; I use both NXP’s TagWriter and Simply NFC

3.     Using an app to write a URL to a tag (the easiest test)

a)     I placed a NFC tag on top of the two mobile phones image on my book cover


b)     I created a URL with the TagWriter app and saved it in my dataset of the app. Note – I also was able to copy a tag content and write to a new tag [2].


c)     I tapped my phone to the tag.


d) TagWriter showed Write successfully



4.    Validate the URL written

a) I tapped the tag with Simply NFC app


b) Simply NFC showed the URL on the top of the screen


c) I touched the URL on the app and it takes me to my Amazon book listing


5.    iPhone Xs, XR or newer can read the tag directly without an app to validate the URL on the tag.

[1]: The NFC tags I use are &

[2]: The copied URL is saved in My Datasets on the TagWriter and tap the link for a second, you will see options Copy



2019 Sensors Expo and Conference

The Sensors Expo and Conference is held annually at the San Jose McEnery Conventional Center. This year, over 7000 attendees and 300 exhibitions met, networked, learned and shared the latest sensor technology and applications on June 26th and 27th.

Sensors are the core elements for Internet of Things (IoT). They can be embedded in new hardware equipment; i.e. a green field, or attached to the existing ones; i.e. a brown field, in order to collect, exchange, and analyze data. They are embedded within airplanes, cars, medical devices, industry production lines, health care or lab equipment, wearables, mobile devices, oil refineries, and heavy machinery. Their missions can be critical; for example, 737 MAX faulty sensor caused the system to push down the jet’s nose, consequently costing 346 lives in two separate crashes.

During the Expo, I learned that Smart sensors can even calculate position data without GPS/GNSS, thereby reducing power consumption. I also learned how embedded intelligence is achieved, using MEMs sensors to turn warbles into users’ daily companions through ultra-low power, high accuracy, small size and smart integration [1].

In another session, I discovered that SST Wireless designed and implemented quite a few industry sensors, including the Duo pressure and temperature sensor to support sewer operational efficiency by monitoring the pressure readings of the pumps to identify where clogs are forming as a result of the grease from restaurant dishes [2].

In 2025, half of the world population will be living in water-stress areas. There is presently work being conducted on smart sensor platforms for real-time water monitoring, detecting heavy-metals pollutions or even bacteria [3]. There are also sensors monitoring the air quality, but a lack of standards has led to poor performance of the sensors (an issue that is currently being addressed) [4].

A new open specification initiative is underway to achieve plug-and-plan interoperability for Industrial IoT. There was a session described the effort on security, open standards interoperability, and leveraging existing interfaces for the initiative[5].

With the rapid growth of IoT, sensors have gained more traction than ever—in some cases, life or death. At the same time, the improvement of sensors technology creates many more opportunities for smart systems and applications from consumer goods to industrial usages and from smart buildings to smart cities.

This was a very informative expo and in the next blog, I will share the pre-conference learning.

[1] A session of MEMS “A Dive into the Latest MEMS Pressure Sensors for Wearable & IoT Applications” by Jay Esfandyari.

[2] A session of Wireless industrial Sensors: A journey of Innovation & Discovery by Christopher Chong.

[3] The internet of Water: Insights in Water Quality Using Larget-scale sensor networks by Marcel Zevenbergen

[4] Measuring Air Quality: Solutions and Pitfalls in Particulate Sensors by David Pariseau

[5] Moving toward Industrial IoT Plus & Play: Standards Advancement for IoT Sensors by Doug Sandy

NFC Innovation Day 6-26-2018

Editorial Note; This blog was published on LinkedIn in July 8th 2018.

June 26th, 2018 marked the kick-off of NFC Innovation Day in London. This competitive event put a spotlight on new and novel applications of NFC technology from projects all around the world. As one of a few tech authors in the US who writes about NFC, I was both honored and excited to be invited to participate as an innovation award judge.

Unlike the US, UK is a place where NFC technology is embraced. (For a brush up on what NFC is and how it works read my previous post linked here). It was tremendously inspiring and energizing seeing the work being done and meeting the brilliant event participants.

This year’s inaugural event was packed with informative speeches and panel discussion. Towards the end of the event, three winners were announced for the innovation award presented by NFC forum:

Best In-Market Implementation: 1trueid (Italy)

1trueid is the first secure digital enabler distributed in a social blockchain platform. Linking customers, products and manufacturers, it provides anti-counterfeiting and traceable solution with a secure digital identity in every object. An encrypted Product Digital Identity (PDI) is embedded into each object and is used to authenticate the object. See more details at

Best Emerging Concept: IoTize SAS (France) 

IoTize SAS was created in 2017. It’s an NFC solution for equipment’s’ connectivity, support maintenance in the industrial environment. In March 2018, IoTize SASbecomes ST Partner Program member and introduces first module with ST25-DV Dynamic Type-5 Tag.

NFC for Good Award: eWaterPay (UK)

eWaterpay designs and manufactures an IoT (Internet of Things) NFC pre-payment water meter tap system for fitting existing supply standpipes. To ensure the water supply is self-financing and sustainable, an NFC type 2 tag is used to keep track of pre-paid credit. The Components are as follows: eWaterpay tap/water meter – NFC read/writer, eWaterpay smart phone App – read/writer, custom NFC type2 tag, and GSM IoT module (AWS/MQTT enabled). See more details at

These products give a glimpse of the many advancements NFC technology has been undergoing along with other developments moving forward in the Android world; including P2P mobile payments.

When can we anticipate such exciting applications here in the US? Expect some interesting innovations to emerge when Apple enables write mode and peer-to-peer mode in the iPhone. This will be the catalyst to moving the ecosystem forward in the US market.  (For more info on why adoption has been slow in the US read my article here.) Until the US catches up with the rest of the NFC ecosystem, stay inspired by digging into the interesting projects above a more happening around the world.

What is Blockchain

Are you curious about the underlying technology of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies? This blog explains that technology – blockchain – in plain English for new learners.

A blockchain is a structure that enables a digital ledger of data (a block) to be recorded, stored, and shared in a computer network environment. To process a transaction requested by a user, the network will validate the transaction, add the transaction to the current block of transactions, and chain the block into an existing blocks by hashing. Hashing means a computer generates a value from a string of text using a mathematical function. All access to the blockchain and controls are managed with software.

A blockchain network is composed of nodes that contain a complete record of all of the transactions that were ever recorded in that blockchain. The nodes are located throughout the network and can be operated by anyone who has access. For example, Bitcoin has a blockchain network with about 5,000 global nodes.

We often hear about blockchain in the context of digital currencies. However, its application is much broader than this alone.

For example, Chronicled, a San Francisco-based company, built the first IoT/Blockchain lab to help track the identities of fine art, consumer products, and luxury goods. An NFC chip with a unique identifier is embedded in a product. Blockchain is used to register the identifier and verify the legality of the product, so counterfeit goods won’t be able to pass this verification.

This is an attractive alternative to the current status quo of businesses having their own databases. Interactions between these databases are time consuming and require trusted third parties. For example, when we receive a check, we need to deposit it to a bank to transfer money from another bank into our account.  When businesses move their data to a blockchain, the deposit, withdrawal, and access are going to be directly handled between a consumer and a supplier, therefore, a trusted third party is not required anymore. Additionally, it is very difficult to change or remove data when it’s in a blockchain. Therefore a blockchain enables trusted data and facilitates transparency.

This fundamental change is going to disrupt many industries. Therefore, basic knowledge of blockchain is important for business leaders. Digest the information above and stay tuned for my next blog.

NFC – A Commodity of Apple’s

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range wireless connectivity technology that makes use of interacting electromagnetic radio fields. It has been widely adopted by the public transportation sector, for applications such as the ORCA card in Seattle metro, the SmartTrip card in Washington DC metro, Oyster card in London’s tube, Leap card in Ireland and NFC coin in the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit.

Most of the Android phones have been NFC enabled since years ago. While Apple was busy filing and receiving NFC patents, the NFC ecosystem was anxiously waiting for Apple to adopt NFC in the last 5 years. With Apple’s endorsement, NFC’s adoption rate would have been much better.

In 2014, Apple finally provided an NFC solution for its mobile wallet with the release of Apple Pay for iPhone6/6+. It is very encouraging for the NFC ecosystem. However, other than Apple Pay, all other NFC functionalities have not been activated. Yes. I upgraded my iPhone to leverage Apple Pay at the time.

Three days ago, when people lined up in front of the Apple store to get iPhone8, I purchased a used iPhone 7.

Why? Apple adopted the NFC reader operation with iOS 11; only iPhone 7 and above can access the functionality. I was happy to get a discounted iPhone7, downloaded the gototabs app and was able to read an NFC tag successfully. That’s good, I suppose. At the same time, it’s a disappointing user experience.

I created that NFC tag four years ago to demonstrate Android NFC reader/writer operation. When I enabled NFC on an Android phone, I could tap and read the tag without any app. Using an app to read the same tag is definitely less an experience but the offer is significant since it enables 78+Million iPhone7 users to read NFC tags. Now it’s time to leverage NFC tags!

Obviously, NFC becomes a commodity that requires Apple’s customers to upgrade their iPhone to leverage each new offer. Would I have to upgrade my iPhone again when Apple enables NFC writer operation?

Note – This blog was published in linkedin in September 25, 2017

Apple Unlocks Another Piece of NFC – Enabling Read Operating Mode

There’s exciting news for the NFC ecosystem! The iPhone 7, 7+  as well as the Apple watch, will be christened with NFC tag readability when iOS 11 and Watch OS 4 releases in the fall of 2017. For those active in the ecosystem, it is evident why this turn of events is encouraging for unlocking NFC’s full potential in US markets. But if you’re wondering what the big deal is, here’s some background that will explain the enthusiasm.

For starters, Near Field Communication (NFC) is the short-range wireless connectivity technology that enables the Internet of Things. NFC tags are passive devices used to communicate with active NFC devices. They can be deployed on physical items, which makes for really cool interactions. NFC tags can be programmed and embedded in business cards, smart posters, stickers, wrist bands, clothing and promotional materials. They are extremely useful in the distribution of information and the promotion of products and services. They can also launch tasks, preform configurations, and initiate apps when being tapped by an NFC-enabled device. Unfortunately, the stunted growth of the NFC market has limited our access to the possibility IoT brings. That’s why this shift in Apple’s policy yields promise on the horizon.

Although iPhone 6 and 6+ have been NFC-enabled since 2014, the NFC capability of these devices has been intentionally limited by the company. Meaning that while all other NFC smart phones have been able to exchange data at a short distance as well as read and write information on NFC tags for years, the only NFC functionality accessible to Apple consumers up until this point has been Apple Pay, the company’s proprietary mobile payment application.

How much impact can one company’s adoption have? Let’s look at it this way: Apple shipped 231.5 million iPhones globally in 2015 and 216.4 million in 2016. This is a leading portion of the smart phone market. The impact of limited functionality from iPhone devices sent ripples across the NFC ecosystem. Conversely, Apple’s new inclusion of NFC tag readability in its 2017 updates will open up a new possibility for this technology with many use cases. I’m very excited to see what unfolds in the future.

Mobile Payment – A Trend to Watch in 2017

Note: This post was originally posted in LinkedIn in January 18th, 2017.

The days of fumbling through a wallet, pocketbook, or purse at the check stand are coming to an end. Research and Markets reported that the global mobile wallet market is expected to reach $635 billion by 2020 from $113.5 billion in 2015 at the compound annual growth rate (GAGR) of 41.1%. Allied Market Research predicts that the global mobile payments market will reach 3,388 billion by 2022, growing at the CAGR of 33.4%.

This climbing trend will continue as mobile becomes more and more a part of our lives. Are you taking advantage of your mobile phone’s payment capabilities for your retail purchases? Do you know how? I will summarize the basics of Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile wallet in this post since we have a few options in the US market right now.

A mobile wallet enables you to use your mobile phone for making payments. During the set-up of a mobile wallet app, your credit card information is entered and saved to your mobile wallet. All you need to do at the check stand is open the app on your phone, tap or hold it against the cashier card reader, and your payment will be processed with the selected credit card.

The underlying technology enabling tap to pay is NFC – a short-range wireless connectivity technology that makes use of interacting electromagnetic radio fields. An NFC mobile wallet is composed of a few components: a mobile application (app), payment options (credit cards), an authentication method for user identification, and an NFC chip for wireless transmission or Host Card Emulation (HCE) software structure for an app to emulate a card and talk to an NFC card reader directly.

Currently, there are a few mobile payment apps as follows:

Apple Pay is a NFC mobile wallet app provided by Apple launched in October 2014. It works with the iPhone 6, iPhone 6+, iPhone sequential releases, and even the iWatch. An NFC chip is embedded in the Apple devices to enable the Apple Pay tapping and paying.

Samsung Pay was released in August 2015. Not only does it work with NFC, Samsung phones are also equipped with Mobile Secure Transmission (MST) technology that emulates a swipe transaction through the swipe reader in case the reader is not NFC enabled, broadening the purchasing power of your mobile device. Samsung also plans to release Samsung Pay Mini in early 2017, which could also allow non-Galaxy devices to benefit from Samsung Pay. However this may exclude integration with Apple devices, as Apple store rejected Samsung Pay app in December 2016.

Android Pay, a Google Wallet, was released in September 2015. It works with all NFC-enabled Android devices running KitKat 4.4 and above. Android Pay uses Host Card Emulation (HCE) technology to interact with NFC payment terminals.

Microsoft Wallet is available in Microsoft insider. Windows 10 for phones support Host Card Emulation (HCE). HCE will allow any smartphone with Windows 10 and NFC hardware to transmit payments from the device to an NFC terminal designed to receive that money but without needing a special secure app like Softcard. It also won’t require any secure SIMs from wireless carriers.

In October 2015, US banks and processing networks implemented Fraud Lability Shift. Almost all credit card readers were replaced with EMV compliant readers. EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) is a global standard for credit cards that uses computer chips to authenticate chip-card transactions. Most the EMV-compliant credit card readers (Point of Sale) are also NFC-enabled. This transition significantly expands the potential for widespread NFC mobile payment adoption.

In addition to this, more education and incentives are rolling out to encourage consumers to use mobile payment. For example, the number of daily Samsung Pay users has doubled every week since the launch of Samsung Rewards in the US in November 2016. Likewise, consumers are rewarded if they pay with Apple Pay at participating 300,000 self-serving cashless vending machine.

Will 2017 be the year that Mobile Wallets really take off? Will you be ready for this new era of purchasing?

Is NFC (Near Field Communication) Dead?

Editorial note: This article appeared in Linkedin on December 7th, 2016

I recently had coffee with a friend whom I hadn’t seen for a while. We chatted about our lives and work. He told me about the Internet of Thing (IOT) product he is marketing, and asked what I was up to. When I told him I was working on the 3rd edition of my “Everyday NFC” book, his next question astounded me: “Isn’t  NFC dead?” Surprised, I looked at him and reassured him it was not, and that I was committed to publishing my book soon. Part of my urgency in doing so is to correct such misunderstandings.

My friend is not alone in his assumption. Even in the technology field, many are clueless about NFC’s many applications in IoT and beyond. Not only is NFC alive, it is a widely used enabler that connects objects to  the Internet. IoT doesn’t exist without smart sensors. As Business Insider pointed out in their article entitled  21 technology tipping points we will reach by 2030 , “1 trillion sensors will be connected to the internet in 2022.” NFC will play a critical role in this process.

What is NFC? NFC is based on RFID technology. It is a technology that enables wireless data transfer in close proximity without the need for internet connection. NFC sensors can be integrated into devices and wearable in many fields. NFC Forum was established in 2004 and leads the effort for the unification of the NFC ecosystem. More than 140 companies are members of the NFC Forum.

NFC Forum has been promoting the relationship of NFC and IoT: “With 38.5 billion connected devices expected by 2020 and over one billion NFC-enabled devices already in the market, NFC is playing a key role in making the Internet of Things a working reality.”

Not only does NFC enable IoT, it plays an essential role in Industry 4.0 (Industry internet) to facilitate connectivity in smart factory manufacturing. The low cost of NFC tags can help identify items, tracking them, and even reflect on their conditions.  For example, the wine industry is using NFC tags to authenticate wine bottles in order to exercise brand protection.

The possibilities of NFC are endless; it is quite alive and thriving!

Three Things That Business Leaders Should Know About Industry 4.0

Editorial note: This article appeared in Forbes on November 1st, 2016

As a business leader, you can’t afford not to know about Industry 4.0 (defined by McKinsey as “the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing sector”), which will transform manufacturing in a way that impacts profit margin significantly for your business.

While not many people understand or have even heard of the term outside of manufacturing, many business leaders have heard about IoT (Internet of Things). What will happen when IoT becomes fully integrated with other emerging technology, such as big data and autonomous robots? Can you imagine the impact on the world? That’s just one of the questions posed by this new phase.

There are three things that you should know about Industry 4.0: what it is, what the impact is, and what challenges it faces.

What Is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 was an initiative started by the German government in 2006. It has also been called the “industry internet” or “the fourth industrial revolution.” The initiative’s intention is to digitize the manufacturing sector in order to increase productivity. German industry will have invested a total of €40 billion in Industry 4.0 by 2020.

The vision of Industry 4.0 has been adopted worldwide and is influencing other initiatives and cooperative efforts. In general, there are nine key technological components that make up the foundation of Industry 4.0: autonomous robots, big data, augmented reality (AR), additive manufacturing, cloud computing, cyber security, IoT, system integration, and simulation.

Through the interoperability of IoT, computation, networking, and physical processes are integrated as cyber-physical systems (CPS) that cooperate with each other and with human beings in real time. As a result, manufacturers are transforming into “smart factory operators” who manage highly automated, connected equipment, and analyze data provided by the systems.

What Is The Impact Of Industry 4.0?

• New business opportunities. These are created for many vertical markets, such as retail, medical, industrial, automotive and telecommunication industries. According to The Economist, many companies have initiated the effort to digitize factories, such as Siemens, BASF, Bosch, Daimler, Deutsche Telekom, Klöckner & Co., and Trumpf. The products they make are increasingly packed with sensors and connected to the internet in order to provide better products and services for their customers.

• A more efficient value chain: When the system is well integrated, equipment can be run by automated processes. The cost of manufacturing will be decreased and the quality will be better. The impact is on the whole value chain of delivering products to the market. When the value chain is impacted positively, the margin will be impacted accordingly and create a competitive advantage for a company.

• Data-driven strategy and business models: Sensors in CPS and cloud computing enable data collection and analysis in real time. Therefore, issues can be detected and resolved in a timely manner and the product lifecycle can be streamlined based on insights from big data analysis. Also, insights that reflect real-time operations are available for decision makers. Therefore, strategy and business models can be modified quickly to increase revenue.

• A rising need for skills-based training and talents: Specific skills are required to work in a smart factory. The skills will impact education choices and societal structure when traditional labor is being replaced.

Industry 4.0 Challenges:

• Reliability and stability: Since IoT standards are being established, it is a challenge to have a reliable and stable non-proprietary solution for machine to machine (M2M).

• Security: When objects are connected without sufficient security precautions, the system is vulnerable. For example, in 2015, Chrysler recalled 1.4 million vehicles after security researchers found that they could remotely disengage both the brakes and the transmission of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee. This is a challenge of IoT.

• Long-term commitment and development: It takes industry commitment to work on standards and protocols in order to have interoperable solutions developed. The financial investments might impact the effort of long-term development for some companies.

• Skilled labor: German demand for engineers outruns supply right now. This is an example when disruptive innovation happens, a skilled workforce will be difficult to locate.

Only time will tell how smoothly the transition into Industry 4.0 will be for the world of business as we know it. As business leaders, we can stay adaptable by staying aware, informed and prepared.


Is Proprietary IoT Lock-in Unavoidable?

Editorial note: This article appeared in Linkedin on August 1st, 2016

I attended the Wearable / IoT Techcon in July. There were many good speakers who presented to an eager audience. My learning at this event can be summed up with two points: 1. IoT is vulnerable and 2. IoT lacks standards.

IoT (Internet of Things) has become a buzz term in the last few years. IoT refers to a connected network of physical objects including devices, vehicles, buildings, appliances, electronics, and more. In the world of IoT, objects can exchange information, initiate activities, or activate processes. The connectivity provides convenience, integration, and intelligence.

However, this exciting IoT world is vulnerable. Not only can hackers take control of your connected car, but also your smart home system, your digital wallet, or even your pace maker! For example in 2015, Chrysler recalled 1.4 million vehicles after two security researchers demonstrated that they could remotely disengage the brakes and transmission of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Another example of wearable vulnerability was given by IBM speaker, Chris Poulin, that malware came from Fitbit’s Bluetooth infected your laptop though device synchronization. Such challenges are why IoT security was identified as the top one technology for 2017 & 2018 by Gartner.

Given the risks, one can see why security is a critical consideration in IoT and wearables. Chris recommended as a resource for eliminating IoT security risks and suggested the following strategic steps that businesses should take to mitigate threats:

  • Conduct an asset inventory
  • Update security policies to include IoT devices
  • Familiarize yourself with non IT connected devices

In addition to security, another fundamental problem is that IoT standards are being too slowly established. Many proprietary systems are in the market that will make interoperability difficult.

What is the current state of IoT standards? After researching on IoT standard bodies, Terry Hughes posted an article in April 2016  “Will industry muscle win in the IoT standards war?”. He concluded that, “There are many standards bodies, many competing initiatives, yet no universal IoT standards today,” and, “As we have seen in mobile, the race to standardization takes up to 20 years, and in the meantime IoT represents a huge market opportunity for technology companies to fill the standards vacuum.”

In my research, oneM2M seems to be the one standards body that is developing a comprehensive end to end IoT standards.  Many IoT products have their own protocols and APIs to connect smart devices and systems while standards are being formed. Given this environment, it would be shrewd for users and businesses to think twice about the price being paid with proprietary solutions.

My biggest question right now is “Is proprietary IoT solution lock-in unavoidable and what the impact it creates?” I would love to hear your thoughts.