The smartcard of the future "&brkbar; is you

01 Jul 2008

For some time now, NTT has been exploring technologies in the hopes of using the human body as a transport network. In late April, the telco finally released its first "human area network" product: "Firmo", a card-sized transmitter that fits in your shirt pocket and converts stored data into a weak AC electric field that extends across the body. Touch a device or object embedded with a compatible receiver, and the electric field is converted back into a data signal that can be read by the device.

Firmo - which is based on NTT's RedTacton technology - transfers data at 230 kbps, but NTT is reportedly working on a low-cost 10-Mbps version. DoCoMo sees apps like building security and keyless cabinets as initial apps.

Note that a set of five card transmitters and one receiver goes for around 800,000 yen ($8,000), but NTT expects the price to come down when mass production begins.

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