New secure smartphone payment solution – magnets?

14 Jul

Coded messages sent by magnet. By today’s giga-speed standard of telecoms technology, it seems a little… last century. But it stands to make close-range payment systems much safer, whether by terminal or using digital barcodes on the item itself.electromagnet

This novel way of making small data transfers utilises a smartphone’s magnetic field sensor, traditionally used in its compass app, to receive coded pulses from a nearby electromagnet.

The recalibrated smartphones, in the study by researchers at the University of Oulu in Finland, were able to translate the pulses into music tracks and website urls, for example.

Aptly named ‘Pulse’, the invention has some way to go before it equals the transmission speed of radio waves; the transmission rate is slow, and only works over a tiny distance, of 2 centimetres. Short of building a ten-storey electromagnet to increase the signal’s range, it makes sense to keep things small-scale.

But the localised nature of the connection means that Pulse is ideal as a substitute for near-field communication (NFC) payment systems, like an interactive street poster or bus stop advert.

NFC payments are those where a smartphone owner makes a purchase by tapping their phone on a terminal. But, says University of Oulu’s Vassillis Kostakos, the system “can be hacked by people nearby. Pulse could send a secure code over a short range to activate the regular NFC app.”




One Response to “New secure smartphone payment solution – magnets?”

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