Celebrating Innovation: 25 Years of MIFARE and “THE NEW NORMAL”

Celebrating Innovation: 25 Years of MIFARE and “THE NEW NORMAL”

At NXP, our development teams spend a lot of time thinking about what we, as human beings, do in a day – and why. We look at what it takes to get through an average 24 hours and consider how we might do those things better. It’s a way of seeing the world, asking questions, and thinking about the unexpected. It challenges us to re-examine what’s familiar, develop new approaches, and deliver innovation.

At the same time, though, we keep in mind just how difficult it can be to modify what’s familiar. Changing the way we do everyday things can be hard. It can be uncomfortable and unsettling, and require an unwelcome adjustment. The best changes, we think, are easy to adopt. Well-designed changes bring convenience and simplicity while improving how we move through the world. Before we know it, these new ways of doing things are indispensable. They have become, as we call it, the “new normal.”

One NXP innovation that has created a long list of new normals is MIFARE®. Working behind the scenes, and without a lot of fanfare, MIFARE ICs have achieved remarkable longevity, with 25 years of positive innovation to their credit.

The First New Normal: Transport

The story begins in the early 1990’s, when three NXP engineers, working in one of our offices in Austria, performed a bit of magic and created what is now known as MIFARE. Their goal was to improve the way we pay to use public transport. Instead of putting a coin or token or paper ticket into a machine that was prone to jamming, all you had to do was take your contactless ticket (with a MIFARE product inside), tap the ticket to a reader, and be on your way.

In 1994 the first MIFARE chip was introduced to the public, and just two years later the contactless revolution in transport ticketing began to gather momentum in Seoul, South Korea, where bus and rail commuters began using contactless fare cards. Rush hour became a little more manageable, with less waiting in line and less frustration over mechanical malfunctions.

Since then, contactless ticketing has taken off. Today, major cities around the world use MIFARE for transit systems and MIFARE has become the new normal in public transport.

The Ongoing Revolution

As it turned out, transport ticketing was just the beginning for MIFARE and the new normal. Since those early days in Seoul, MIFARE has never really slowed down. The tap-and-go convenience of MIFARE has found its way into more than 40 application types, creating new normals in a remarkably broad category of use cases.

Consider, for example, some of the ways that MIFARE chips, in all their form factors, have entered our lives. Hotels and resorts have retired their cumbersome metal keys, and now give guests a sleek, MIFARE product-based key card that slips easily into a wallet or purse while providing quick access to rooms, spas, and other exclusive areas. Concerts, sporting events, and music festivals run more smoothly and efficiently, with attendees using MIFARE equipped cards or tickets to enter venues and pay for snacks and souvenirs without waiting in long lines or hassling with cash. Facilities managers use MIFARE ICs in badges and wearables to let employees identify themselves and enter meeting rooms, while retailers issue MIFARE product-based cards that make it easier for everyone to make purchases and earn loyalty points. Even universities, colleges, and other educational facilities are putting MIFARE to work, using it in student IDs that give learners access to classrooms and let them pay for meals while on campus.

Add it all up, and more than 1.2 billion people, in over 750 cities worldwide, use MIFARE on a daily basis. Every day, there’s someone, somewhere, using MIFARE, whether it’s in a smart card, a smartphone, a wristband, or some other portable or wearable item.

Continuous Innovation

What’s next for MIFARE? Cloud-based Smart City services. The digital version of MIFARE, called MIFARE 2GO, puts digital MIFARE product-based credentials onto mobile and wearable devices. With MIFARE 2GO, queuing up at a vending machine becomes a thing of the past, since now you can easily access Smart City services, including transport ticketing, with just about any device, be it a smartphone, a smart watch, or whatever comes next.

As another way to help Smart Cities deploy trusted contactless services, we recently introduced a lightweight version of our successful MIFARE DESFire family, called MIFARE DESFire Light, that incorporates high-security standards while also enabling mobile interactions for everyone using Android and iOS operating systems that support NFC.

We’ve also launched the MIFARE Hospitality IC, a tailored solution that enables quick integration into RFID key cards, so you can conveniently enter your hotel room, or log on to Wi-Fi with a simple tap of your card with a mobile phone. Further guest services are just a tap away, with quick redirects to the hotel brand’s loyalty program or special offers.

Lasting Value

With MIFARE, what started as a single IC has grown into a suite of solutions, supported by a global ecosystem that enables advanced cloud connectivity and secure, multi-application service offerings. Yet MIFARE products remain at the forefront of privacy and protection, with best-in-class security features that help our customers create future-proof contactless systems and, at the same time, let operators stay in charge of their systems – so you, as a business owner, retain full control over your data, your keys, and your clients.

A Year-Long Celebration

To mark the many achievements of the MIFARE brand – and the many new normals it has created – we developed a year-long campaign called “Celebrating 25 years of inventing THE NEW NORMAL.” You’ll see references to the campaign throughout 2019, with postings of our 25th anniversary MIFARE logo online and in print.

Our campaign honors the clear-minded inspiration of dedicated engineers and serves as a big “Thank You” to all our partners and customers who, for more than two decades, have put their faith in MIFARE. Perhaps most important of all, though, this campaign is a way to pause and gather energy, in preparation for the next generation of new normals that MIFARE will create.

The NXP MIFARE Team

 

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