Electronica 2022: Infineon's NFC Batteryless Entryways Seem Like Wizardry
At Electronica 2022, we stopped by the Infineon stand to see what they had on show. Among a huge range of solutions for pretty much every part of the industry, one thing, in particular, caught our eye.
A seemingly normal padlock opened with a phone. The catch? There are no batteries anywhere involved and minimal circuitry. An onboard capacitor stores charge from the NFC poller - in this case, a smartphone - and when a threshold is met, a low-power MCU brokers secure entry before triggering a solenoid, unlocking the padlock. All via energy harvested from NFC.
This was one of several examples of similar uses for the tech at the stand, including a mockup 3d model that lays bare how simple the circuitry is. We spoke with Stathis from Infineon about the NFC lock and how it slots into Infineon's solutions for smart home designs.
The star of the show here is the Infineon NAC1080, an NFC-powered 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 MCU for smart lock applications, introduced in July 2022. Alongside the low-power cost computation of the MCU, It integrates energy harvesting and an H-bridge, making it a pretty all-in-one solution for secure smart lock uses.
The padlock is built by IH technologies, an Infineon partner, and is the perfect simple showcase for the tech. There was also another example that solves a potential problem with smart door locks and entryways: What happens if the power goes out?
The same NFC charging can open and close smart locks in a pinch - it takes a while as the forces are much higher, and it is not a true alternative to the normal function, but that's not the point. It's a much more elegant solution than carrying a battery and probe points around just in case your building power is out and you forgot your physical key.
This isn't the first time we've seen this idea in action. Electromaker community member ashokr used the same principle to make a battery-free blinking ID card. The difference here is the immediate utility in both smart home and industry settings. I'm not an electrical engineer, but even so, I was unaware that energy harvesting and NFC were capable of things like this.
To find out more, including how to get samples and reference designs, head to the Infineon NAC1080 landing page.
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