To help prevent RFID theft from credit cards researchers working on an on/off switch

Steven Hodson - Author

Jun. 16 2013, Updated 12:13 a.m. ET

As much as some of us might not like the idea the advent of radio frequency identification (RFID) or near-field communication (NFC) is here to stay and making its way into more and more of our gadgets and life. Nowhere is this more being seen than with our credit cards as companies like VISA and Mastercard want to get away from the old style magnetic strip technology still in use.

The problem that companies are facing is one of perception on the side of consumers that neither of these technologies are secure and are really reluctant to embrace them whole-heartily. To help alleviate consumer concern researchers are trying to find a way to incorporate an on/off switch in the technology.

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A simple technology to achieve this end is being worked on by researchers at the Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering that would see the simple act of placing your finger on your card would turn in “on” when you go to pay for something.

The idea is that by touching something a simple as the logo on the card, or an icon, it would complete the circuit and enable readers to read the card. It the circuit isn’t complete the included NFC or RFID technology would be disabled.

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“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,” explains professor Marlin Mickle in a statement. “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.”

The extra step would take very little time for the customer, and researchers think the technology would be fairly easy and inexpensive for credit card companies to adopt. They recently filed a patent application for the on/off card technology.

via VentureBeat

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The good old K.I.S.S. principal – never fails.


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