Futurists going back at least to the days of Star Trek have dreamed of having a single handheld device that was ‘smart’ as hell. That device should not only be a communicator, but be able to conduct science experiments too. Ok, so the 2nd part isn’t about to happen soon, but your phone may soon act as your wallet, particularly if Nokia’s current test is a success.
Nokia is running a 6-month pilot involving over 500 users who get to use their cell phones as Oyster cards. For the non-Brit readership, Oyster cards are electronic ticketing smartcards used by the Underground and National Rail systems in London. The Nokia phones use a technology that has a TLA (three-letter acronym) called NFC (Near Field Communications). NFC sounds just like what it is – a wireless comm that only works over very short distances. NFC operates on different frequencies from those used for phone calls, so I can just picture people on the phone bending their heads over to get within range of the card readers!
Of course, if your phone can act as an Oyster card and the Oyster card can act as a virtual wallet, then so can your cell phone! Take a look at this video to see some of the ways in which they are imagining using NFC. Makes sense. Only problem is the obvious one – what happens when your cell phone gets stolen?