Riding the Contactless Wave of NFC (S1:E9)

Riding the Contactless Wave of NFC (S1:E9)

As an Executive Member on the NFC Forum Board and Vice-Chair of its Healthcare Task Force, Amir Khoshniyati, GM and VP of Transponders at Identiv, joins us to discuss the mission behind the non-profit forum and explore what the future holds for near field communication (NFC) technology. We talk about the latest tech innovations in the contactless wave and the collaborative journey towards sustainability in NFC.

Full Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:01):
You’re listening to Humans in Tech. Our podcast explores today’s most transformative technology and the trends of tomorrow, bringing together the brightest minds in and outside of our industry. We unpack what’s new in physical access, identity verification, cybersecurity and IoT ecosystems. We reach beyond the physical world, discuss our digital transformation as a species and dive into the emerging [figital 00:00:30] experience. Join us on our journey as we discover just how connected the future will be and how we will fit into that picture.

Identiv is well known for offering the highest quality NFC tags with innovative designs, global scale and depth of encoding capabilities, all from a best-in-class engineering and R&D team. It’s NFC enabled solutions feature a complete portfolio of tags and form factors, allowing customers and partners to create their own NFC products, ecosystems, and experiences.

The company is also equally focused on participating in and collaborating with associations, driving adoption and strengthening standards of NFC technology across the industry. Leigh Dow, VP of global marketing at Identiv is joined today by Amir Khoshniyati, GM and VP of the transponder business at Identiv, to showcase one particular association, the NFC forum.

Leigh Dow (01:29):
The NFC forum is a nonprofit industry association with a membership drawing from all parts of the NFC ecosystem. And working within the framework of the NFC forum, member organization, share development, application and marketing and expertise to build the best possible solutions for advancing the use of NFC. The NFC forum brings the convenience of NFC technology to life, empowering organizations to deliver secure, tap-based interactions with intuitive, reliable experiences to users around the globe. Amir, thank you so much for taking the time today to chat with us about the NFC forum.

Amir Khoshniyati (02:02):
Absolutely. Happy to be here.

Leigh Dow (02:04):
Can you start by just sharing your background with our listeners?

Amir Khoshniyati (02:07):
Sure. Just a quick background about myself. I actually spent quite a bit of years, six and a half years in the Microsoft channel, in the value added reseller channel. Really focused on system integrations, traceability solutions really, that tied to ERP and CRM systems. Made my way into the RFID arena. Worked for a couple big organizations that were colossals on the supply chain side. Developed a expertise around HF NFC solutions. And then, now I’m responsible for the transponder business at Identiv.

Leigh Dow (02:45):
You joined the Identiv team last summer and it’s such a critical time in our growth trajectory, as we increase the focus on RFID solutions. And your team is just growing so rapidly. What changes have you noticed within Identiv and just the industry as a whole, since you joined?

Amir Khoshniyati (02:59):
Well, I joined at, I guess, a critical time within the industry itself. Not only was everybody holistically facing issues with COVID, but the trajectory and the growth around going contactless was picking up more than ever.

Identiv was very well positioned as a specialty provider and a leader in HF NFC solutions to really jump on that bandwagon of growth that the market was adopting to. And from my standpoint, the market was basically folding in, especially on the commodity side.

It was a sweet time to transition over to Identiv and also look to really grow a team. Because the value was really around higher ASB, higher margin business. And the attention really, from the market, was getting away from the commodity side. We’re in a prime position to really attract the best talent, the best expertise, and really ride this wave that is everything contactless these days.

Leigh Dow (04:01):
Yeah. And we also talked with Manfred and Vera, both from Identiv. And they shared also, just talking about. And Tim Daley, he also mentioned just what a great design engineering partner Identiv is. And had high praise for the team’s ability to find solutions.

Amir Khoshniyati (04:21):
Definitely. And that was really my turning point as I’ve been in the competitive realm with Identiv for years on end. It was really the thing that attracted me. It was the level of depth and how quickly with quality we could get products out to the market.

Leigh Dow (04:39):
As an executive member on the NFC forum board that defines the standards and processes for better aligning the technology adoption across a lot of different industries, what can you tell us about the forum? And why is it so vital to the advancement of NFC technology?

Amir Khoshniyati (04:54):
Well, the NFC forum is really the defacto standard for everything when it comes to NFC, applications, standards, use cases. And as the rise and dependency on NFC technology is picking up on a day-to-day basis, especially again, building on that COVID era, going contactless, these standards become more apparent.

On the UHF side, there’s been traditional dependencies on Auburn University and the ARC standards with each spec being associated to a specific industry segment. Now, when you turn the tide on HF NFC products, really the NFC forum is that stamp of approval. Really putting the barriers that you need to meet to essentially be at the right quality level. But then really banking on these different task forces that they’ve put in place to define what the market is using as use cases and applications.

And if there are other customers that are interested in doing it, having them do it with best-in-class approaches that others have done. And this basically user group came together to put all those applications together and then standardize them as a whole.

Leigh Dow (06:10):
You also serve as the vice chair of the NFC forum board’s healthcare task force. Can you tell us more about how the forum task force is structured?

Amir Khoshniyati (06:19):
The healthcare task force has had two waves. The first wave was really up until 2013. And there was a handful of use cases that were drawn out really, around authentication. And really, that’s where it stopped. And with the rise in COVID and the effects it had on going contactless, the NFC forum had basically put a charter out to resurrect this healthcare task force.

Two years ago, we made the decision to actually bring this healthcare task force back into fruition, take a lot of the applications around authentication, surface them again, and see how they’ve evolved over the years. And then take many of the applications that we’re seeing standard in the market today as a result of COVID and see how they can benefit really, the community by using best-in-class chip technology, best-in-class antenna designs and best-in-class customer recommendations to bring these applications to light.

We’ve spent the last two years really bringing the right level of verification around what we did in 2013. And then, we’ve really excelled around the applications that have really been front and center over the last two years. And the cadence of the task force has been on a monthly basis. The feedback has been great. And now we’re actually evolving into many more innovative things around the solution side.

A lot of things that are having to do with COVID passports, verification as you go from one country to another. NFC technology is not just standardized now just on products that might be in healthcare or pharmaceuticals or medical devices, but we’re actually seeing the software solution portion now also being a part of the discussions in the monthly board meetings, which is great.

Leigh Dow (08:12):
Yeah, it’s definitely exciting times in that space. There’s so much opportunity and the possibilities are truly limitless.

Amir Khoshniyati (08:20):
Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more.

Leigh Dow (08:23):
Since it was founded in 2004, the forum formally outlined the architecture of NFC technology, and it’s released 26 specifications, provided a roadmap that enables interested parties to create powerful consumer-driven products. Whether it involves the healthcare taskforce just the board in general, what are you most excited to see in terms of collaboration within the forum in 2022?

Amir Khoshniyati (08:47):
I would say definitely more innovation. There’s 26 specifications that have been stamped. This is going to be growing exponentially. From my personal perspective, it’s really exciting to see the journey towards sustainability and what that means overall. And when we look at collaboration in many of these applications, really going into the new year and all the years to follow, this term of eco-friendly tags and sustainability overall, including chip sets with FlexSide C technologies, these are probably the most exciting as we see more and more use cases.

And in addition to that, it’s really the standardization of the certifications behind all these applications. Making it much more stringent to go through a process. Be able to bring not only good performance, but high quality product lines to each segment. And then having these segments, very similar to what we’re doing on the UHF side, have standards that you follow.

Leigh Dow (09:51):
If you could look ahead the next one or two decades, where do you really think NFC technology is headed?

Amir Khoshniyati (09:58):
I would say definitely in a format that it’s native across the board across all devices, which is really the era that we’re living in right now. But as you evolve from going contactless, going into every label, potentially having a digitized product, or having some level of engagement behind it as a digital trigger. Basically evolving into more specialty use cases, which is really where we sit with our strength, is being able to embed NFC technology into everything.

When you walk around, you not only have the ability to digitally engage with every product and every physical project, the product out there has a digital identity behind it, but you also have the ability to have these products actually digitally engage with themselves. Whether it’s they have what if scenarios built into it, or we see that NFC is coupled with other technologies, such as BLE, which is creating more of a internet of things overall, where products can interact and engage with one another.

Leigh Dow (11:02):
That’s really interesting. It’s definitely interesting and exciting times in the IoT.

Amir Khoshniyati (11:08):
Definitely. It’s the time for IoT. We’re in this industrial 4.0. And I think we’re accelerating very quickly, not only into triggers there all around us, but also, being able to do a lot of the AI and machine learning and automate a lot of the data that is being consumed from all these different digital triggers around us.

Leigh Dow (11:29):
Well, thank you so much for sharing your perspective. We learned a lot today. And we really appreciate you joining us.

Amir Khoshniyati (11:35):
Thank you for having me

Speaker 1 (11:36):
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Physical security, identity verification, the IoT. The hyperconnectivity of our lives will only grow more pervasive. As technology becomes more automated and experiences more augmented it’s up to us to preserve our humanity and use new tools and trends for good. The only question is, are we up for the challenge?