2013年5月13日 星期一

Replacing contactless payments with RFID hugs and tap dancing

Artist Heidi Hinder is turning RFID-enabled hugs into monetary transactions to prompt a debate on how we assign value and trust to virtual currencies and contactless payments.

Through her project Money No Object -- part of Watershed's Craft and Technology Residencies programme launched this January -- Hinder has been working with the Pervasive Media Studio's technology team to translate simple human interactions into payments. A trained jewellery maker, she was driven to question the social context of monetary exchanges in a technological world in light of emerging new payment forms and the ongoing financial crisis.

"I'd always wanted the objects I make to trigger some kind of experience and something beyond themselves," she told Wired.co.uk. "This seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that by incorporating digital technology. Currency obviously represents the most dominant form of value in culture, and I guess we see it as a form of communication and a bond -- a system of trust we all put faith in. It has this other profound significance that often you don't think about when paying for something with change."

In the UK physical money is stamped with the Queen's likeness, reminding us of the nation's politics and history, while the scripted words "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of X pounds" adorn our paper notes. The coinage and notes we use bear greater significance when it comes to the promise we are making and the relationship with who we are giving it to than we might think when making rapid, daily purchases. Debit and credit cards further separate us from this original meaning, while contactless or online payments all but eliminate the human contact that reminds us of the importance of the action.

"I was looking at the value of human interaction and how that's becoming increasingly valuable -- there will be fewer opportunities to interact if digital currencies increase. People will be more and more behind their screens and physically isolated. With contactless payments there's no contact at all -- you wave something at a reader and may not even make eye contact with a vendor in a shop."

To reinstate this interaction and its importance, Hinder embeded RFID chips into objects that wearers use to make transactions -- those transactons are still convenient and speedy, but a social context or interaction is returned. Her chip embedded rings and gloves allow two people shaking hands or high-fiving to make a transaction (one person has to wear the bulkier tag-reader), while brooches authorise a payment on contact when two people hug. An absoute winner as far as Wired.co.uk is concerned, anyone with a chip embedded in their shoe can carry out a tap dance on the spot to make a payment -- perhaps a little more inconvenient, but certainly entertaining. It stops to make you think and it switches the impetus from an external force -- a bank that issued your card or a tech giant that made your NFC-enabled phone -- back to the paying party. And so far, people love it.

"Money is something everybody can relate to and it's such a hot topic. I was hoping people would see it in a new light and in a playful way -- with all the financial crises going on -- and reconsider value and what that might mean. To explore an alternative economic idea of sorts in a playful way.

"I suppose a lot of people are very divided over the hug in particular: they're either really keen to experiment and hug it out, or say 'oh gosh I can't I'm far too British'. But actually both of those things signify a lot to do with money and currency, because it's awkward to exchange something that people have such a strong feeling about. You do enter into this contract,Online shopping for chipcard. if you like, and that need for trust that you have to have within that system of money in order for it to work is huge. Obviously money is also a form of communication, so physical gestures are different ways in which we can communicate."

It's not just the human interaction and monetary value Hinder wants us to get thinking about -- she also cultured coin bacteria to demonstrate those communications we don't realise we're making when paying.

"When you make a monetary transfer, even on your laptop, there's a transfer of bacteria potentially. So with the handshake we looked at making gloves from a kind of nanomaterial that inhibits the spread of bacteria -- in theory you could then make clean transactions."

For her work to have any kind of practical purpose in the real world the technology has to be as discreet as possible, so Hinder is working with the team behind Imogen Heap's wireless music-making gloves to see how invisible she can make the tech. Having upgraded the humble high five in just three months,Learn how an embedded microprocessor in a iccard can authenticate your computer usage and data. she's taking meetings this week to hopefully acquire more funding that will help see her concept transported to real world transactions -- specifically in a museum setting. Here, Hinder imagines it replacing the too-often ignored donation boxes

"You can experience all that cultural richness and wealth for free, and they ask for nominal donation which obviously a lot of people don't give. This project of physical gestures could create a microcurrency within the microeconomy of the museum. I suppose I see museums as forms of banks they have this inestimable value within them, but within the form of objects. It would make payments a fun, interactive and artistic experience,Choose from the largest selection of indoortracking in the world.The Motoroladrycabinet Engine is an embedded software-only component of the Motorola wireless switches. but with some benefit to the museum financially."

With the unpredictability of the markets and the price of gold -- a usually trusted marker -- plummeting, not to mention the permanent ups and downs of Bitcoin, Hinder says it's even harder today to find where value lies. We might be in the dark about where things will lead in the next few decades,Large collection of quality indoorpositioningsystem at discounted prices. but we're no doubt in for some big changes. So it's always a nice reminder of the human spirit to know an artist/maker can get strangers to hug and break into spontaneous dance in the name of research.