Turning the Phone into

By Edmund Ronald  |  Posted 2005-07-13 Print this article Print

an Electronic Wallet" "> This years new Vodaphone models can show live TV programs on their huge screens with 240x320 QVGA resolution. Trendy phones are now large, and the image is quite good. However, Vodaphone phones are not the fashion thing here; the fun thing to own is an NTT Docomo (meaning everywhere) i-mode. These always have the latest techie features.
The latest new-new thing that NTT seems to be promoting is FeliCa, a contactless ID tag developed by Sony that provides the authentication necessary to turn your phone into an electronic wallet.
The wallet can store ID information and e-cash. The wallet can be conveniently topped up with e-cash by—you guessed right—accessing a site, which means the operator cashes in via the access charge. Some interesting identification applications of the FeliCa technology are as membership card replacements, for example for video rentals or remote pre-check-in for flights—the boarding pass gets printed when you step up to the check-in machine at the airport—and remote booking of entertainment tickets, where your phone then identifies you for entry. Much of this could be done with any contactless ID-tag technology, not necessarily built into a phone. Yet the huge, young subscriber base of i-mode provides the take-off pad to give the phone e-wallet technology a chance at success. In order to address the security issues that arise when a phone contains as much confidential data as a wallet does, NTT is offering up two more innovations: remote locking of a device via the Net, and phones with built-in fingerprint scanners. Concerning hardware, its obvious that the United States and Europe will always lag behind Japan, where the consumer electronics technologies are developed, but its strange to see that a country with minimal theft also leads in security features—remote locking is something we could all use. Edmund Ronald has a Ph.D. in applied mathematics, but he is currently on a sabbatical as a photographer in Paris. He can be reached at photofeedback@gmail.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.


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