Safety In A Ubicomp World

Timo et al Mediamatic have created a superb physical instantiation of safety in an era when the network leaks rather perniciously into the physical world. Their RFID safe enclosure protects your near-field communication objects from being scanned by faulty equipment or data muggers discretely consuming the swarms of RFID krill floating around most alpha tier urban centers. A lovely instantiation to help think through how people’s concerns around safety, security and trust always seem to leave opportunities for the always entrepreneurial accessories marketplace.

Well done.

7 thoughts on “Safety In A Ubicomp World”

  1. Cool, but you don’t need an enclosure.

    I have a metal charter membership card from the Long Now Foundation in my wallet. By accident, I found out that the metal card was enough to disrupt the magnetic field of the RFID reader, basically, my RFID cards can’t be read when next to the card. Makes sense.

    So, I put the card in one half of my wallet and the RFID cards (Oyster and Helsinki Transit YTV) in the other half. I open my wallet and touch with the half of the wallet without the metal card to get a reading. Kinda better than having to take it out of an enclosure to use it.

    Maybe if these enclosures allowed that kind of easy flipping out to unmask the cards. Especially since most RFID card used today are for quick in-out payments and such.

    You bet when I get my US passport with RFID I’ll do the same somehow.

  2. Practicalities; yes you can use any metal holder, Muji ones are good. There are many products that offer to do this, including some strips of metal that you insert into your wallet like you mention Charlie.

    But as I see it the point of this is awareness, planting the mental model of protection, raising awareness of the bounded/unbounded nature of RFID.

  3. Yep, I think the way the object and its physical instantiation “materializes” these stories about some of the implications around RFID, and create a larger, more legible and easy to grok imaginary around the technology, revealing its cultural aspects and perhaps some of the concerns people should consider around trust, security and their own privacy — this is what the object theorizes and why I like it so much. What the physical form expresses, or suggests and implies is perhaps more interesting to consider than the actual functionality or its pedigree and so forth.

  4. As a Confucius once said, “One man’s ‘superb physical instantiation of safety’ is another man’s metal box”.

    I really wonder about this place sometimes. Especially if Julian above wrote all that with a straight face.

    1. My face is always sideways; that is the theme here, looking askance. Never use normal language and look from the outside to provoke and prod and find new things in the normal and mundane. Provocation and preposterousness are two of our other principles of operation here. Insight and innovation never come from being normal human robots, heh?

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