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Pitt researchers' NFC and RFID cards feature a touch-sensitive on / off switch

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Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have made cards that have a type of on and off switch. The NFC or RFID circuits are disconnected when in your wallet, and information is only accessible when you place you finger on a certain part of the card, connecting the circuit.

RFID NFC Credit Card
RFID NFC Credit Card

Before all of the security worries around Google Wallet, the original concern over NFC and RFID chips was that thieves armed with relatively cheap tag scanners could pick up sensitive information from credit cards that used the contactless technologies. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering believe they have a solution to thwart the would-be criminals — they've made cards with NFC or RFID chips that are disabled until you place your finger on a certain part of the card, connecting the circuit. Contactless cards with on and off switches aren't a new idea— it's an obvious solution, after all — but this new implementation is the most elegant we've seen. According to the researchers, their switch is "very inexpensive to integrate into the RFID and NFC credit card manufacturing process." A patent application has already been entered, so perhaps we'll finally see this sort of simple safety precaution built in to cards soon, especially as the contactless payment systems proliferate.