Connected Objects Wallets

The Cashew Smart Wallet drives would-be thieves nuts

One of the worst feelings in the world is misplacing a wallet. Not only is money lost, but time too since all of the cards within need to be reported lost or stolen before waiting a week or two for replacements. In this day and age of connected goodie, Revol Inc. didn’t think all this hassle was necessary, creating the Cashew Smart Wallet as an answer.

The Cashew is a clamshell-like smart wallet made of a scratch and water-resistant polycarbonate that can hold up to eight cards and 30 types of currency. What make it special is that it sports a biometric fingerprint reader and smartphone connectivity, working together to keep its contents secure both from thieves and users themselves. To set it up, a user need simply to open up the companion iOS/Android app, sync the wallet via Bluetooth, and register their fingerprint on the app.

Smart Home

Ola uses touch sensor, fingerprints to rock the smart lock

Smart locks have become one of the more popular components of the smart home product category. The one drawback of some of them is that they rely on the user accessing a smartphone app in order to open up a door, and that can sometimes take a while –- especially if the smartphone is buried at the bottom of somebody’s bag or, worse, the phone has been forgotten somewhere.

Ola is a smart lock that uses Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and capacitive fingerprint technology that makes it not only a keyless solution, but also a phoneless one. It’s able to store up to 1,700 fingerprints and takes less than one second to open the door once the fingerprints are read by the touch sensor, according to its maker. Ola is powered by four AA batteries and doesn’t require a Wi-Fi connection, so it will continue to work even if the power goes out. It costs $179 as part of its Kickstarter campaign and will ship in March. Retail pricing hasn’t been set, but is expected to be about 30 percent higher, said its maker, who set a campaign goal of raising $125,000 by July 23.

Ola is bound to appeal to a wide audience. Although it doesn’t require a smartphone for users to open a door with the smart lock, there is an app for Android and iOS devices (and soon Windows) to facilitate registration for new users. The “masters” of the house can also use the app to give or deny access to guests or manually unlock the door via Bluetooth. The only minor drawback is that it’s water resistant, but not waterproof, so if it’s submerged in water for an extended period of time that would break the electronic components of the lock. Its maker also warns that it’s best to dry off one’s fingers before opening the lock because water can impact the sensor’s ability to recognize fingerprints.


ProxLok locks your computer screen when you walk away from it

Computer security remains critically important, especially when in public places. Fingerprint readers are increasingly being used as a solution, but once computer users logs in using such a system, they must then remember to log out every time they walk away from the computer for even a few seconds.

patent-claimedProxLok is out to provide a better solution. It’s a proximity-based biometric login device that plugs into a computer via USB. It comes equipped with a fingerprint reader and uses Bluetooth to detect the presence of the computer user’s cellphone. When the computer user walks a few feet away from the computer, the device automatically locks the computer screen. If users don’t have their cellphones with them, after logging in, ProxLok will warn them that it can’t detect their cellphones and ask if they want it to periodically request a fingerprint scan to keep them logged onto the computer. ProxLok costs $179 and ships in November. Its maker is hoping to raise $175,000 by June 17.

Proximity technology has been used in several products already, including Loxet, which automatically locks a car as soon as the driver walks away from it. ProxLok’s most obvious flaw is that many computer users are smart enough not to walk away from their computer when they are in a public place. However, there’s always that quick excursion to the  cafe bathroom for which it may defend against prying eyes at least until more smartwatches can implement these features.

Input Tech Accessories

iTouch ID makes you the finger prince (or princess) of PC passwords

Creating and implementing a strong password strategy is one of the challenges of using devices that is largely fading on the iPhone thanks to the its Touch ID sensor that allows logging in and passwords.

That level of convenience may be coming to Windows PCs and Macs thanks to a New Zealand team producing the iTouchHD, branded as the world’s smallest USB fingerprint scanner. the aluminum device boasts a sapphire lens so it should hold up to daily wear and tear even as a permanent fixture in a USB port. There’s no word on whether teh company will produce a USB-C version to accommodate the new MacBook. It’s seeking to raise $67,000 NZD (about $50,000 USD) by April 18. An iTouch HD is available for $130 NZD ($99 USD) and is due in October.

While a USB add-on may not have the degree of integration that the similar sensor has on the iPhone, it’s the kind of product that laptop owners could use every day. However, some computers like the iMac have their USB ports on the back where the product may be much less convenient. Plus, beefed-up support for biometrics in Windows 10 could prove a boon for devices like this little fingerprint reader.