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Wallet no more: How the tech behind Apple Pay can change our lives

Marco Tabini | April 1, 2015
Apple Pay is still in its infancy, but its infrastructure could replace everything from credit and debit cards to keys and IDs.

Your heart on your sleeve
Consider now what happens when you add an Apple Watch to this mix.

For all intents and purposes, the "watch" part of the company's upcoming wearable device is little more than a pretext to outfit every user with a computer designed to be with them throughout their entire day. If the smartphone liberated the computer from office and home, the watch could well liberate it from the pocket and place it on our wrists, where it would follow us everywhere we go.

Like its phone counterpart, of course, the Apple Watch is also equipped with both Bluetooth and NFC radios, which allow it to detect its position inside your home (or your office), and talk with the appliances and devices around you. The same wave of the hand that will soon make Apple Pay purchases possible could well be used to control your connected home, give you access to your office, and generally customize the world around you as you walk through it.

Ultimately, the Apple Watch's truly personal nature could result in a huge number of applications we haven't even begun to think of. Imagine, for example, walking down the aisle at the supermarket and being able to find everything about the products you come across simply by flicking your watch at them. Perhaps, if you're diabetic, the device could help you figure out whether a particular kind of food is appropriate for your diet. Or, if you're visually impaired, it could help you figure out what you're about to buy. And, if you're unsure where the butter is located, it could discretely guide you to the appropriate location using haptic feedback to tap your wrist.

Yes, it's really me
When dealing with a new technology, it's always easy to get caught in the excitement of all the positive changes it can bring to our lives. It's also true, however, that just about any piece of new tech can be perverted for all kinds of evil purposes, and this is most likely the case with things like NFC and Bluetooth. With a watch on your wrist, you're basically a walking and talking radio--a dream come true for anyone who wants to track your movements, regardless of their intentions

Luckily, Apple has a solution to this problem already in place with Apple Pay: Touch ID. By requiring biometric identification before allowing any transactions to take place, the company has created a mechanism that keeps your privacy and security intact--not only against theft of your handset, but also against bad actors who try to wirelessly siphon data out of it without your consent. (The Apple Watch will offer similar functionality by "forgetting" your payment data whenever you take the device off your wrist.)

 

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