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NFC Forum releases “connected health” medical device specs

July 17, 2013

Bernard Cole-July 17, 2013

Now available for download  at no charge from the NFC Forum  are three new near field communications specifications as part of the group’s connected health effort.

The three spec are the Personal Health Device Communication (PHDC) Technical Specification, and the Connection Handover 1.3 and Signature Record Type Definition (RTD) 2.0 Candidate Technical Specifications.

"Together, the Personal Health Device Communication specification and updates to the Connection Handover and Signature RTD specifications enable solutions providers to both broaden and focus the power of NFC in a growing variety of use cases and industries, from Health Care to Consumer Electronics," said Koichi Tagawa, NFC Forum Chairman.

He said wireless health monitoring devices are being increasingly advocated by health care providers as a means of better managing chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, and reducing health care costs.

According to Tagawa, the PHDC Technical Specification is designed to enables devices to transmit health data easily via NFC to external computer systems for monitoring by physicians.

Formerly a candidate specification, the PHDC Technical Specification provides an interoperable data transport for personal health devices conforming to the ISO/IEEE-11073-20601 Optimized Exchange Protocol and NFC Forum specifications.

Health Care and Consumer Electronics are two of five areas of growth that have been targeted by the NFC Forum as part of its Special Interest Group (SIG) initiative  The two other specifications from the NFC Special Interest Group are candidate technical documents.

The Connection Handover 1.3  Candidate Technical Spec defines the structure and sequence of interactions that allow two NFC-enabled devices to establish a connection using other wireless communication technologies, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

“This makes it possible for solutions providers to deploy applications that combine the simple, one-touch set-up of NFC with the high-speed communication of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi,” said Tagawa. “Connection Handover also supports static handover, in which the connection handover information is stored on an NFC tag.

It includes updates to the Connection Handover 1.2 Technical Specification, as well as support for mediated handover, where an NFC-enabled device acts as a handover mediator to between two other NFC-enabled devices. He said this capability is useful if those two devices are difficult to place in proximity to each other due to weight, size, or having a fixed location.

The Signature RTD 2.0  Technical Spec provides developers with a mechanism that allows users to verify the authenticity and integrity of data within NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) messages. “It specifies the format used when signing NDEF records and provides a list of suitable signature algorithms and certificate types that can be used to create signatures, he said.

It adds to the features of 2010 Signature RTD Technical Specification 1.0 with support for compact certificate formats to conform to most tag types. It also includes more security features, supporting the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Federal Office of Information Security (BSI) recommended algorithms.

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