MagCode: Bringing NFC Feature to All Smartphones

Donghui Dai, Zhenlin An, Qingrui Pan, Lei Yang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Mobile payments have experienced a significant surge in recent years, primarily due to their contactless feature that mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission. In this landscape, NFC-based payment outperforms barcode-based payment in terms of security, usability, and convenience. It is especially more user-friendly for the amblyopic community. Unfortunately, NFC functionality is unavailable in nearly half of the smartphones in the market nowadays due to the shortage of NFC modules or being disabled for security reasons.

In this demo, we present a novel cross-technology communication between an NFC reader and a camera called MagCode, which allows customers to enjoy the high security and convenience of NFC-based payment with the ubiquity of cameras. At the heart of MagCode is the harmless magnetic interference on the CMOS image sensor of a smart-phone placed nearby the NFC reader, resulting in a group of barcode-like stripes appearing on the captured images. We take advantage of these stripes as a medium to encode data and achieve simplex communication from an NFC reader to an NFC-denied or NFC-disabled smartphone. In particular, we design and implement a stack of protocols from the physical to the transport layer and test the proof-of-concept prototype across 11 smart devices. Extensive evaluations demonstrate a maximum throughput of 2.58 kbps, which outperforms the magnetometer-based solution by 58×.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationACM MobiCom '23: Proceedings of the 29th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking
Number of pages3
ISBN (Electronic)9781450399906
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2023
EventThe 29th Annual International Conference On Mobile Computing And Networking - Madrid, Spain
Duration: 2 Oct 20236 Oct 2023
Conference number: 29


ConferenceThe 29th Annual International Conference On Mobile Computing And Networking
Abbreviated titleMobiCom 2023
Internet address

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Side-channel Communication
  • Intentional Electromagnetic Interference
  • Camera
  • Mobile Payment


Dive into the research topics of 'MagCode: Bringing NFC Feature to All Smartphones'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this