New ARM Reference Design Quickly Builds Secure IoT/Wearables


ARM has unveiled a new wearable reference design using the NFC solution jointly developed by ams AG and STMicroelectronics. The ARM mbed reference design supports IoT applications including contactless ticketing, access control, payments and more.

The reference design leverages a secure, high-performance NFC solution consisting of the ST54E from ST, a System-in-Package featuring an NFC controller (NFCC) and a Secure Element, and ams’s AS39230 NFC analog front end with boostedNFC technology.

The new solution delivers a high RF performance in contactless payments, even when operating through an antenna smaller than 100mm2. This is because the ams boostedNFC technology is said to overcome the difficulties that conventional NFC devices face when attempting to operate via a tiny antenna in an environment hostile to RF transmissions.


The ST SiP supports all important NFC security standards worldwide, ensuring that the reference design can support secure transaction types required in IoT applications, such as contactless payments, automatic fare collection and access control

The design achieves very low average power consumption, helping to extend battery run-time between charges. Power consumption is reduced as the ST54E may be held in a deep power-down mode when not in the presence of an NFC RF field. At the same time, the AS39230 cycles rapidly through its far less power-hungry active power modes, drawing an average current of just 18µA.

System designers can easily work with the design since it is supplied with a complete NFC software stack developed by ST. This stack is compatible with ARM’s mbed IoT Device Platform.

The reference design’s software is modular allowing users to compile only the modules for the use cases their device supports. This helps to reduce the system’s memory requirement and to optimise the resource footprint. The software stack also supports peer-to-peer and reader/writer functionality, and can be updated over-the-air when the device is in the field.

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The security capabilities of the wearable reference design are enhanced by a separate fingerprint reader, which uses an STM32F411 Dynamic Efficient microcontroller from ST, based on the ARM Cortex-M4 core, to perform fingerprint image processing and matching.

“The ams/ST comprehensive NFC solution provides an easy path to developing secure and energy-efficient wearable/IoT applications for contactless payment, ticketing, and access control. Compatibility with the mbed IoT Device Platform will enable OEMs to go from prototype to product quickly and focus on adding their own value-add features”, said Laurent Degauque, Marketing Director, Secure Microcontroller Division, STMicroelectronics.

“The ARM mbed Wearable Reference Design provides a tested design foundation for companies to quickly build low-power IoT devices and focus on adding value with their own innovative features. The NFC solution from ams and STMicroelectronics demonstrates the energy efficiency obtained by utilising ARM Cortex-M processors and the mbed OS for small form factor devices and applications”, said Zach Shelby, vice president of marketing, IoT Business, ARM.

Details of the mbed Wearable Reference Design can be found on

Click here to view full Press release.



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