NFC sensor interface for industrial IoT

NFC sensor interface for industrial IoT

New Products |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

ams’ (Premstaetten, Austria) AS3956 is a dynamic NFC sensor tag IC which meets industrial-grade quality standards and provides very high reliability in mission-critical applications and in products with a long operating lifetime.


The AS3956 dynamic tag acts as a contactless bridge between sensors and any NFC reader, such as a smartphone, through a host microcontroller. It supports the NDEF messaging protocol in full compliance with NFC Forum recommendations, guaranteeing interoperability with any NFC phones, including Apple iOS devices.


In designing the robust AS3956, ams worked with suppliers of products for industrial applications and the Internet of Things (IoT). Intensive testing in real-world applications has, ams says, validated the performance and reliability of the chip in a wide range of demanding operating conditions. Unlike the consumer-grade dynamic NFC tags on the market today, the AS3956 is suited to:

– industrial and Internet of Things (IoT) applications exposed to harsh operating conditions, including extreme temperatures ranging from -40°C to 125°C;

– products requiring an extended operating lifetime, such as HVAC equipment, hearing aids, and wireless sensors for infrastructure such as roads, bridges and utilities. The AS3956’s internal EEPROM memory is rated for a minimum 100,000 program/erase cycles, and offers 10 years’ data retention at 125°C;

– mission-critical products that require a zero failure rate;

The AS3956 includes features that give the designer flexibility in implementing NFC-based applications. These include the provision of both an I2C and an SPI interface to a host microcontroller, and a wide supply voltage range of 1.65V-5.5V.

In basic operation, the AS3956 acts as a stand-alone Type 2 tag conforming to the NFC Forum standards and supporting NFC communication with a reader. In addition, either of two data-transfer modes for host controller communication can be selected:

– Extended Mode, a self-timed data transfer mechanism using standard Type 2 tag commands, minimizing software overhead on the host controller

– Tunnelling Mode to implement ISO14443A Level 4 PICC emulation in line with EMVCo requirements or custom protocols


The AS3956 includes an energy-harvesting capability, drawing energy from the incoming RF field generated by an NFC reader, and supplying up to 5 mA to an external device. Energy harvesting is useful as a cost effective, small footprint alternative to standard wireless charging, to extend battery lifetime in biometric smart cards, or to implement fully passive wireless sensing solutions, as required (for example) in smart insulin pens.


ams provides the AS3956 in a miniature chip-scale package (CSP) 0.3 mm high, and with a 1.8 x 1.4 mm footprint: as well as in a 3 x 3 mm MLPD package. Pricing is $0.53 (1000). A demonstration kit is available.





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