Purdue tech could usher in a world of digital communication via touch

With the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world, researchers are looking for ways to make basic acts like making payments at stores easier. The way we complete transactions has been changing in recent years, particularly with payments via smartphones or wearables like the Apple Watch. However, most people still pull out their credit card and swipe or insert it into a card reader. Purdue Engineering has announced new technology that could allow users to simply touch the machine with their finger to complete a transaction.The prototype was developed by Purdue University engineers that acts as a link between the user's credit card or smartphone and the reader scanner. All the user has to do to transmit information is touch a surface. Purdue's prototype system is unable to transfer money at this time, but it's the first tech able to send any information through the direct touch of a fingertip.

The prototype technology the researchers developed is worn like a watch, and the user's body can send information such as a photo or password when touching a sensor on a laptop. Engineers say that the technology wouldn't rely on biometrics; it relies on digital signals. The tech allows users to do things like log into an app on someone else's phone by using touch.

Since the technology is integrated into a wearable watch-like device as a prototype, this could hint at what Apple Pay and similar services may look like in the future. The technology also foreshadows a future where we may not have to remember things like ATM pins or passwords for computers. Perhaps the technology could even eliminate the need for scanning cards to access portions of secured facilities.

The technology needs no Bluetooth that radiates from the device and could be intercepted or potentially hacked from a distance. All of the signals are confined within the body using something called "electro-quasistatic range," much lower on the electromagnetic spectrum than Bluetooth communication.