Japan is a nation where it is common to pay for goods electronically using one's mobile phone. For instance, phones are routinely swiped at train gates or vending machines as payment.
If NTT DoCoMo could have its way though, all these can soon be done without even taking your phone out of your pocket. To prove its point, DoCoMo unveiled a new prototype cell phone on Tuesday that does just that.
The phone, which uses a sensor made by start-up Kaiser Technology Co., sends electric signals through the human body to transmit data, enabling electronic payments or data transfer at the touch of a finger.
The technology here is near-field communications technology, researched by IBM. It's also used by Matsushita Electric Works in ID tags, but DoCoMo is the first to pack it into a handset.
A hypothetical scenario is that security doors would open automatically as your phone transmits your ID code through your feet. Or how about getting into your car and having the car instantly adjust the seat and steering wheel to the perfect angle, as suggested by DoCoMo spokesman Takushi Koinumaru.
Koinumaru was quick to stress that this is still very preliminary research. He says, "We don't know yet if we can commercialize this technology. We need to conduct more research. Then we need to see if there actually is a market for this."
Do you see a future where we can swap vCards by simply touching someone? I don't know about you, but I think the term "handshake" just got a brand new definition.
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.