Remember the days of scrummaging for the right change before you could get into the subway? Transit fare was always an area where convenience and reusability are key. Things have gotten so much easier these days. All you have to do is pull out your transit card right? Tap in, and tap again on your way out.
Contactless payment cards have been around for a long time. The first usage of this was in Seoul, South Korea when the Seoul Transportation Card was launched in 1996. Eventually this was changed to the U-pass card, and has now been integrated into the T-Money card (which also serves as a payment card at many locations such as convenience stores etc). They have since grown to include other versions of the card like credit card integrations, phone straps, and more.
In Hong Kong, company then known as Creative Star Limited was quick to follow with the launch of their Octopus card in 1997, having researched the contactless payment card technology since 1994. Since then, many other cities have also begun to use the contactless card technology for transit fare collection. Myki and Opal cards are used in Melbourne and Sydney respectively; Singapore has their EZ-Link cards; the Access card is used for public transport in Greater Stockholm; Presto in Ontario, Canada, and TAP card in Los Angeles, are just a few in the crowd of different companies across the world.
As convenient as these cards are, what happens when you realize, while rummaging through your bag and pockets, that you've left your wallet at home? What happens if you keep losing the card? They're at least a couple dollars each and for people with already huge wallets, it's not exactly comforting to need to add yet another card to the pile.
Designer Lucie Davis has the solution — just hack your nails with microchips. Because each of these cards normally use RFID technology, the small microchip in the card can be embedded into other things like wearables. Or in this case, acrylic nails. The 22 year old jewellery design student graduated with these as a part of her final collection.
Davis tested the nails at a local station, and it worked perfectly. Though not everyone will use the idea of acrylic nails, it is the idea of embedding the chip in something that you will likely be mindful of bringing with you on a daily basis.
It is likely that transit fare payment will most likely evolve into something that will no longer be something extra that we need to bring, but rather an addition to our daily lives that will serve multiple purposes. There’s definitely a market for connecting our bodies and machines. YouTube already has a multitude of videos about how to put chips into your body. But if that gets a bit too extreme for you, maybe stick with keeping this technology just within reach.