For most of us, contactless technology was introduced to us when companies like Apple and Google introduced Apple Pay and Google Pay. It's been more broadly referred to as "contactless payments."
We've been able to pay with our phones since 2014 when Apple introduced us to Apple Pay. Simply tap your phone to a merchant's payment terminal and viola — instant payment.
Fast forward to 2020 and you'll find most all smartphones and POS (point of sale) terminals utilize this technology. You'll also find a new "tap to pay" icon on most of your credit or debit cards. This means, no more swiping or sliding your card into the machine. Instead, you can simply tap on the device to pay just like you do with your smartphone.
Lifekey, which launched in late 2018, uses this same technology to handle the access and transfer of data. Instead of only working at payment terminals, our devices work with smartphones to enable access to encrypted information like personal medical data, location sharing with friends and family, and other functionality.
The core technology is called NFC or Near Field Communications.
Near-field Communication (NFC) is a set of communication protocols for communication between two electronic devices over a distance of 4 cm or less (For Lifekey, we recommend 1 cm). Essentially, the NFC chip in your Lifekey device uses radio waves from your device (smartphone) to power it (only while in contact) enough to retrieve a unique identifier from the chip. This ID is tied to an encrypted, private "key" — a user ID that is accessed via the internet.
Tap OS™ is an operating system we created to enable Lifekey as well as other software applications to interface with NFC in new and exciting ways. Think of your smartphone without an operating system. That's how we see physical products now. Without an operating system, there's not much we can do with them as consumers. But, with an operating system, we can now interact with products in new ways.