The Simple, Brilliant Way to Stop RFID Robbers

The money of the future won't be cash, or even sliding plastic—it'll just be a wave of the hand, we're all told. RFID-enabled credit cards sound great, but add an unprecedented theft risk. So how about an on/off switch?

The idea is wonderfully clever: just hold the card on a certain spot if you want to make a purchase—probably a spot you'd be holding the card naturally, anyway. With the contact of your skin, a circuit is completed, and your wireless money is allowed to flow, explain researchers at the University of Pittsburgh:

"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. 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."

With this new technology, consumers would simply hold RFID or NFC credit cards in a specified area-for example, on an emblem or some other identifying mark-when making a transaction. As long as the "switch" is held, the card is turned "on." When returned to a wallet or purse and tactile contact is discontinued, the card automatically turns "off."

So, sorry, creepy guy with an antenna standing outside of Target. Your sci-fi scam looks like it won't be much good, if it was ever any good to begin with. Frankly, RFID fears were probably more bogeymen than anything else, but peace of mind should at least speed up the tech's adoption. [University of Pittsburgh via VentureBeat via The Verge]