While e-wallets haven't quite taken off yet, University of Pittsburgh researchers are doing their part to make potential e-wallet users more comfortable with the near-field communications (NRC) and/or RFID-powered technology.
Security has been a chief concern among potential users, who are afraid thieves could snatch their credit card numbers through the air. But these researchers have come up with a way for e-wallet credit cards to turn on and off, rather than being always on whenever in an electromagnetic field.
"Our new design integrates an antenna and other electrical circuitry that can be interrupted by a simple switch, like turning off the lights in the home or office," says Marlin Mickle, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Engineering and executive director of the RFID Center for Excellence in the Swanson School. "The RFID or NFC credit card is disabled if left in a pocket or lying on a surface and unreadable by thieves using portable scanners."
Mickle claims the advance is both simple and inexpensive, and once the researchers have received what they hope will be patent approval, they expect the technology to be adopted commercially.
Digging into Big Data
The University of California, Berkeley has been handed $10 million by the National Science Foundation as part of a broader $200 million federal government effort to encourage the exploration and better exploitation of massive amounts of information dubbed Big Data collected by far-flung wireless sensors, social media systems and more.
UC Berkeley has five years to use its funds for a project called the Algorithms, Machines and People (AMP) Expedition, which will focus on developing tools to extract important information from Big Data, such as trends that could predict everything from earthquakes to cyberattacks to epidemics.
"Buried within this flood of information are the keys to solving huge societal problems and answering the big questions of science," said Michael Franklin, director of the AMP Expedition team and a UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, in a statement. "Our goal is to develop a new generation of data analysis tools that provide a quantum leap in our ability to make sense of the world around us."