This is Chapter 1 in a monthly(*) series that will evaluate the state of technology and where our basic daily activities are likely to change due to the ever increasing advancements in hardware and software. Using the iPhone 6/6+ as a template of how these things will be incorporated over the next 5-10 years.
On September 9, 2014 Apple announced a new phone as is tradition, and a few new services implemented in the new phone. One of the significant moments in the announcement was the implementation of NFC and the overall addition of Pay (Apple Pay). This is essentially what we'll see moving forward in the mobile devices released by Apple, an ability to utilize Touch ID to pay for items (obviously it's detrimental for retail outlets to implement NFC readers and allow services like Apple Pay to work by October 2015 this will be telling).
Though NFC is tied to payments for now, there's a strong inevitability that API's will be developed and available for developers to implement NFC in other apps and services in the future, likely WWDC 2015. Many observers in the tech space continued to express that the moment Apple implemented NFC into it's products the technology would receive a welcome boost in adoption and become a part of mainstream implementation.
There's a strong probability that this will become true, NFC provides a lot of promise and when combined with Touch ID for security, Bluetooth LE, and iOS, Apple does have everything needed to advance many business sectors to come into the 21st Century. Below will be a look at some services that would benefit from the wallet of the digital age, some of the things described could be eerie and that would be completely understandable, but many of these things are an inevitability.
Rewards programs will shift to a new paradigm in how they're used, it's easily conceivable to believe that Passbook will take on somewhat of a repository for rewards cards used in many retailers, the loyalty cards would essentially be location based obviously utilizing Bluetooth LE and the ever growing implementation of iBeacons which could potentially become a headache to consumers though it remains to be seen.
Payments are just the beginning, Apple Pay is something that I've personally come to use regularly upon shopping at certain stores, only to wish the availability would be widespread, I've immediately come to appreciate it's ease of use and welcome the same ability in the forthcoming Apple Watch.
Though it's important to keep this ideology in perspective related to payment methods in the new digital wallet. Looking at what's expected of retailers come October 2015, where it's up to them to transition their systems to comply with EMV chip based cards or be held liable for any breaches the fact that they're behind in doing so is problematic on many levels. With so many breaches of data going on on what seems to be a monthly basis it would be ideal to suck up the cost of updating payment systems to accept EMV and NFC payments as opposed to the potential cost in the event of a data breach.
It's clear that many iPhone 6/6+ users will grow in the adoption of NFC based payments as well as those that utilize Google's payment method in Android devices (those that have the service available). The one way that NFC services take off is behind retailers and their ability to use any thread of common sense or logic to accept that advancements in technology have allowed for secure methods that protect consumers from the onslaught of breaches taking sensitive data.
It's also the implementation of Apple Pay at the app level, being able to use Apple Pay in apps for reservations with Airbnb or Hotel Tonight, requesting a car through Lyft, and placing orders through Panera Bread, Ticketmaster, and the Apple Store, such an implementation at the app level essentially bridges any gap of purchasing items at brick and mortar locations and online, all through the use of an iPhone.
Through the rapid pace in technological adoption by some institutions and industries it's not far fetched to see Apple Pay and other NFC payment methods be adopted within the next 1-2 years. Imagine using the Fandango App to purchase tickets through an iPhone and simply hold the phone near a reader upon arriving at the theater, any rewards points would be transitioned to your account whether it's through Regal or any other theater chain. Or as we usually see today, walking up to a digital kiosk at the theater and purchasing the set amount of tickets through Apple Pay versus swiping your card.
It was a bit of a surprise when it was reported that Iowa was working on a Driver's License App for it's residents. And this raises a multitude of questions that have virtually no answers, security is the main concern and though Touch ID could answer or somewhat resolve that issue, other questions that come to mind of how can this be verified? Or could this be duplicated creating false identities? Would the app be collecting additional information on the user? What permissions would such an app ask for on a user's mobile phone?
The same could be applied to the potential of digital passports (this is something that is likely no less than 10 years away) as it's a system that would expand the globe where some countries would likely continue to require the physical booklet though there's no telling how biometric security would expand to make security and identification reliable for countries to accept, though it would fall into the realm of dystopian science fiction that a majority of us have read and/or seen.
Nevertheless these methods of identification are bound to happen, whether they remind us of things we've watched in films or something so utterly safe consumers will come to accept remains to be seen, but identification is bound to be a part of the new digital wallet. What's interesting is where we go from here pertaining to other forms of identification when we see our doctor or dentist, when we show proof of insurance related to our vehicles etc.
Digital Keys could inevitably become common practice, and it's intriguing to imagine what essentially carries the title of "accessory" to our smartphones. Hotels would likely offer app based NFC keys tied to Touch ID or other biometric security measures accompanied with a mobile app on our phones, working as a location based app we could be given all of our information to room number and digital key. Look at the method in which Apple Pay is devised, if you approach an NFC card reader with the phone near the terminal the card pops up without tapping any button or opening any app, if you approach your assigned room's door handle the key should or would pop up allowing you to use Touch ID to unlock, now imagine this method with the Apple Watch and keep in mind what Disney has been rolling out.
But that's the key to a hotel, the question essentially becomes, when will consumers be safe with digital door locks and car keys tied to their phone? If they choose such a method, there are plenty of door locks that are tied to existing apps on phones today, most if not all use Bluetooth LE, it's likely many will eventually utilize NFC as one would approach their home they can unlock with two button taps on their Apple Watch as a "Home" icon potentially appears, or use Touch ID on their iPhones with a similar notification.
The same would be applied to automobiles, though the product development cycle of vehicles today is not at the pace of technology, though it's entirely conceivable that Tesla will break this trend as they become more and more available world wide. Approaching your Model S or Prius would bring up the same actions mentioned above, unlock with Touch ID if a "Car" icon appears or as some cars recognize keys that approach automatically unlock the doors, it's not far fetched to imagine this action happening with smartphones and "smart"-watches.
All of this comes down to consumer adoption and it's highly likely that today, those 35 and under would likely accept such a scenario, 36-45 would be skeptical to an extent, 45 and up may potentially chastise and berate such a scenario as an invasion of their privacy and some end of times narrative. A majority of skeptical ideologies are completely understandable, especially with so many hacks taking place what seems like every month. Many people today think Apple has a repository of their user's fingerprints through Touch ID and factually they don't and can't access such information based on how the technology has been conceived, but you can't argue certain points to those that have made up their minds (even if you've shown specific evidence that refutes their claims).
More Probable • Less Hypothetical
The above may seem like something far fetched but it's important to remember we've come a long way in terms of technological advancements in less than 10 years, there's a 95% chance you have a smartphone circa 2012 that's essentially a supercomputer in your pocket. The questions of security are important and will be addressed in one way or another, in many aspects security will be addressed by the company that makes the hardware and software (Apple & Microsoft(?)) in other ways it will be addressed independently by the software creator (Google/Android) and/or the hardware manufacturer with little control over the software (Samsung?).
Outside of the concerns for security will be the chorus of "losing ourselves to technology" which could be taken either way, in some cases there are those that have become obsessive and attached to technology more-so their Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat accounts, yet this doesn't apply to everyone. This piece isn't to look at the psychological theory of being attached to technology though has some mild cases to that point (if it were to be based on psychology completely I would definitely become lost in the rabbit hole). Rather a look at how our daily habits will have a "subtle" or "drastic" change to them as technology improves.
Consider what we've seen in science fiction films over that last few decades, we don't have flying cars, hoverboards, or any other bizarre objects that we thought we would but advancements are coming many of which we have never imagined. Consider for a moment a brief revelation from Elon Musk, one person who is hellbent on bringing the imaginative futuristic ideas into reality, and will more than likely succeed (hopefully), recently suggesting that Tesla is working on a robotic charger that...well...see/read it for yourself.
Btw, we are actually working on a charger that automatically moves out from the wall & connects like a solid metal snake. For realz.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 31, 2014
It's all just the beginning, we don't have Robert or Rosie the Robot (yet) but we will continue see increments of technology replacing the small subtle tasks we do today, and it's safe to believe that this will start with the wallet which is also intriguing. Our most important and closely held information (not too hyperbolic) transitioning to apps and wireless transmission protocols unlocked through Touch ID or potentially voice commands...on our mobile phones and eventually smartwatches that would warrant the title "smart".
In the next few years likely 4-5 if not sooner, the next time you're shopping for a smartphone the purchasing choice and decision will come from a litany of things you've never imagined. You'd consider this can be viewed as good or bad, depends on your level of optimism, pessimism, or vast fictional knowledge one has over biometric security and technology.
As stated in the very beginning this is what you can call Chapter 1 of a series evaluating the state of technology and there are other topics that will be shared in depth similar to what you've read above, topics on health and healthcare, the new retail experience, transportation, and a look at the substantial changes African and Hispanic/Latin Americans can make as they get into coding/programming, as there are many articles that would suggest "teaching everyone to code is wrong or delusional" mostly written by white males, I truly believe a lot of incredible things could come from the minds of those who have tremendously different experiences from their white & male counterparts.