By Stephen Schenck | September 21, 2011 3:43 PM
Google Wallet aims to use smartphones and their NFC abilities to largely replace what you’d previously need to carry around. It can currently let you pay for your purchases, and in the future it should also be able to replace transit passes for some commuters. Are there any other ways that NFC might be able to let our smartphones replace some of the odds-and-ends we carry around on a daily basis? A new lock from Yale could have you leaving your keyring at home, with your smartphone unlocking doors via NFC.
The system wouldn’t require any elaborate whole-home automation system; the NFC receivers are built into each lock and don’t require configuration via a central security system. In order to authenticate your phone, it must be linked with the lock via a custom app. You can use one smartphone to operate multiple locks, using the app as a keyring of sorts.
We’re still getting a feel for which NFC technologies will work, and which will fail to catch on. Like so many of them, this lock system feels like it will succeed or fail based on its deployment; the idea of carrying one smartphone instead of lots of heavy keys sounds appealing, but will only be practical if NFC-equipped locks are widespread. If enough early-adopters invest in the system, it could easily reach critical mass. Even still, there are drawbacks that no NFC system can avoid, and an old-fashioned pin tumbler lock will still work even when the power’s been out for days; we all might be holding on to our keyrings for a bit longer.
(And before you get any ideas about new NFC-equipped iPhones, that’s an NFC case on the iPhone in the above pic)