The idea of using a wristband as an identity token in the hospitality industry is not quite new; Disney’s using it quite effectively as MagicBands at Walt Disney World. Now, the folks putting on the Lollapalooza music festival this summer in Chicago are doing something similar: giving attendees wristbands that can be linked to credit cards. Wearers can tap the bands to vendors’ RFID terminals, enter a PIN, and go. (Note that this does not rely on WiFi, which is unreliable. Imagine not being able to buy food, drink, or merch at a music festival?)
This sort of thing works well in limited and controlled environments like a theme park or single event. In theory, identity tokens are a great application for wearable tech in the wider world. NFC chips in phones don’t seem to have caught on anywhere but Scandinavia, but it’s hard to see where digging a phone out of your pocket to pay for something is any better than digging a wallet out of your pocket.
But if that chip was part of a watch? Wouldn’t that be easier? There are rumors that Apple is putting NFC in the iWatch and in the next iPhone.
There’s more to it than that, of course, which is why we like Bionym so much; they seem to be on the way to solving a lot of the identity problems associated with this kind of model. But we certainly expect to see more wristwear in controlled hospitality environments in the near term, and more sophisticated applications in the somewhat more distant future.