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The Universal Card 358

retro128 writes "Wired News is carrying a story about a new product from Chameleon Network that's supposed to replace all of your credit/debit/customer cards. It can read the information off of the magnetic strips of credit/debit cards, scan the barcode off of customer loyalty cards, and even memorize the RFID signals of devices like the Mobil SpeedPass. All of this information is stored in a device called the Pocket Vault, and is unlocked with the user's fingerprint. If you wish to use a magnetic strip card, you select the card from the touch screen and put a Chameleon card, which looks like and can be run in standard readers like a credit card, in the Pocket Vault. The Chameleon card will then assume the identity of the card you selected, but only for 10 minutes. In this way, if the card is lost or stolen, nobody can use it. In the case of RFID, you just hold the Pocket Vault up to the RFID scanner for a reading. For barcode-based cards, the barcode will appear on the screen and can be scanned by a standard barcode reader. Chameleon Network says this technology will be available in early 2005 and is expected to cost under $200."
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The Universal Card

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  • by eddie can read ( 631836 ) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:05AM (#8482973)
    Seriously, seems cumbersome and delicate. Can I sit on one of these? You don't want me sitting on your lap (for various reasons) but my credit cards can handle it.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      all your cards are belong to us?
      • by tambo ( 310170 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:49PM (#8485205)
        all your cards are belong to us?

        Yeah, that's the obvious problem. Who's to say that the information in the card database is for your credit card? Couldn't it be anyone's credit card?

        Credit card companies have taken steps to link the physical card to the bearer - putting your photo on the credit card, printing on the card that merchants should request ID confirmation, etc. This completely sidesteps those mechanisms.

        In short,this is the perfect tool for credit card theft. Work at a diner for a month, and scan every customer's credit card into your Chameleon. You can then take a great free vacation to another state and pay for every expense on a different credit card.

        It took me about 14 seconds to realize this. And yet, some company spent $beeleeons developing it - probably relying on the old "we can paper over the problem with marketing hype" tactic/fallacy. Any chance the Chameleon is made by Diebold?

        - David Stein

    • So I should stop using my wallet because it is too big and instead use a handheld computer that is as big as my wallet?


    • Also seems like BS. You are not going to read an encrypted speed pass. I am assuming its encrypted like other RFID tech I have worked with.

      I this case you require the cooperation of the card producer. Just like HomeLink universal garage door opener has cooperated so we get UGDO. But car alarm companies and car manufacturers have not so we do not have universal keyFobs.

      I am more confortable with distribution/decentralization of my money access tools. This is why I dont use .NET universal login feature
  • by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:06AM (#8482978) Homepage Journal
    200 bucks for you to know everything about me?

    How about YOU pay ME.
    • yeah, just what i need. one single device that can decide to call 'home' with all of my purchasing habits on it.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:34AM (#8483143)
      RTFA - It stores all of the information locally. The only one that knows everything about you is you.
    • Seriously. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:44AM (#8483430) Journal
      That's $200 you're whipping out in front of everyone. So easy to lose, and so tempting to steal (even if they can't get the data in it).

      Here's what would make more sense: All credit/debit cards require the reader to verify and register the purchase. Instead you open up a meta-account with a debit card that you register ALL your cards and bank accounts with, and then use just that card, allowing the meta-account to distribute your money for maximum savings or returns. Since interest is compounded daily, paying/investing daily could save/make you a fair chunk of change. Hell, just make it a free government service and make it your driver's license or id, so you don't have to carry anything extra.

      Oh, and if you lose it you're not out $200.

      • Free? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bryanp ( 160522 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @09:37AM (#8484306)
        Hell, just make it a free government service

        Free? Free to who? There are no such thing as "free" government services. They cost tax $. My tax $. Maybe I don't want to pay for your personal convenience. Maybe the guy next door doesn't care to pay for it either.
  • by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:06AM (#8482982) Homepage
    This just seems too complicated. I enjoy the simplicity of looking in my wallet, and having only a glance of the card I want, pull it out and use it, no need to select any menus or buttons on it, just pull it out, insert, replace.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:09AM (#8482995)
    Any company that has a hyperlink marked "Investor Information" above-the-fold (shown without a need to scroll down on a typical 800x600 setup) is automatically a bit suspect.

    I fear that Slashdot's logo is now going to get added to their brag-about-press-coverage page []. For the record, the "Boston's WB in the Morning" program they brag about was canceled in 2002.

    I'm not suggesting that this company's technology doesn't exist, but their product is pure vaporware [] and they have lists of good reasons why a merchant, bank, or large company should partner with them, but they can't name any merchant, bank, or large companies who have agreed to partner with them. At least they have a patent appilcation pending [].
    • I agree. Even if it isn't vaporware, this sounds like a "Hey, let's get-rich-quick with our hot cool idea" company. Their order form raises a big red flag:
      For a total of 50% discount, will you pay in advance?
      I will not buy into your scam.
      I will not buy it, Sam I am.
    • So does this mean I should scale back the work on my planned competing product, the "Carte Blanche?"

      On a more serious note, how much of a far-fetched idea did universal remotes appear to be when they were first being developed? While they can be a little bit cumbersome when switching between multiple devices (for those of us who still rig our cable between the VCR, satellite dish, microwave, Bose wave radio, ham radio, heat pump and Tesla coil), it still seems to be generally less hassle than having to sw
    • by C10H14N2 ( 640033 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:58AM (#8483253) will not be implemented because it would be far to easy to use the little bugger as a swipe-and-steal device. Even if the things were ever actually manufactured and sold, I imagine 99.99999% of vendors would not honor them. I sure as hell wouldn't. Besides, they've been circulating this idea for YEARS and they have yet to get beyond the gee-whiz idea stage.
    • Any company that has a hyperlink marked "Investor Information" above-the-fold (shown without a need to scroll down on a typical 800x600 setup) is automatically a bit suspect. I did a tiny [] bit [] of research [].

      Yeah, what did you mean by "suspect?" Are EMC or IBM guilty of producing vaporware? Is NewsCorp not far-reaching enough for you? Granted, not all of these are the most ethical companies in the world... but just an example.

    • It's also stupidware. I might have enough IR remotes for it to be worth me investing in a universal remote, but I do not have enough cards in my wallet to equal the bulk of a unit like this. And with a ten minute TTL, you've got to carry it everywhere.

      Meanwhile, I've got a bunch of Swatch Access watches with contactless smartcards built-in. Why can't we upgrade to something like this instead?

  • by Damiano ( 113039 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:11AM (#8483005)
    So I can grab any card I get my hands on for even a second (as a waiter or working at a gas station for example), run it through this toy and it saves the mag strip info to its internal memory. After getting several hundred (or when I max out the devices memory) I and my friends can then go on a HUGE shopping spree using stolen credit cards. Conveniently, as soon as I think the credit card companies might realize the first number is being used by an unauthorized person, I just switch to the next one. Sign me up! *sigh*
    • by Tensor ( 102132 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:23AM (#8483074)
      This is without a doubt the best thieves's tool!

      The only thing that could be done to prevent this is to make it hold only a small number of each type of card. Like only 10 Credit Cards. Still, its pretty much simplyfies the "printing" of stolen cards.

      OTOH, i wonder if this will ever work. CC companies must back this up to work, i mean try taking the mag strip off your AmEx (or visa, or ... ) card, and pasting it on a cardboard card, and write your name and number up on the front. And then TRY to use it in any shop. I am sure they'll just ask for some other card.

      • You can remagnetize a carelessly discarded card. ALWAYS cut your discarded credit cards. Use it at a shop that is lax on security (why do you think some clerks ask for photo ID and are supposed to type in the last 4 digits of the CC #?). However, this wouldn't even need that. It comes with a "chameleon" card that can change its number. Use that and you're set.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:51AM (#8483210)
        Having to post anonymously, due to a previous life of crime that my present life must not acknowledge.

        The criminal element factor was my first reaction to this. Back in the day, I worked as a bartender in a restaurant. I also knew a few people who were 'connected', as it were. These nefarious people had access to a magnetic card writer. I had access to a great many credit cards. I'm sure you can make the connection.

        I was paid a non-trivial sum for every credit card number I delivered to them, and more for American Express Platinum cards. I was also paid another amount for pilfering credit cards from the office safe -- you'd be surprised how many people leave their cards behind at a bar and never reclaim them. We would always get at least 5-10 a night, and there was a stack of 100's that people had never claimed.

        These people would then re-encode the pilfered cards with the stolen numbers and go on a spending spree. In the event of a store with a last four numbers check, or if security was a concern, they just used another corrupt employee like me to type in the correct four digits. I even recieved a few of these cards as bonus payments myself.

        Luckily for me, I got out of the business before it attracted too much attention on my part. However, to this day, I will not use a debit card in place of a credit card. At least with a credit card, you have protection. A debt card just comes right out of your bank account. I certainly tried to not give the criminals debt card numbers, but I'm sure a few slipped through the cracks, and I know that there were co-workers less scrupulous than me.

        However, I also wonder if you'd be able to use this device in any store. With all the security in place today, I wonder who would accept this as a valid credit card. I can't even buy things without having the back signed half the time. Then again, it's not like the self-checkout lines at Wal-Mart ever physically inspect my card.

        • However, to this day, I will not use a debit card in place of a credit card. At least with a credit card, you have protection. A debt card just comes right out of your bank account.

          It comes down to bank policy. My credit cards, by law, have a cap of $50 of personal liability if they are stolen. But my debit card, by WFB policy, has a cap of $0. Which card will *I* use? Hm...
    • Um, that would be great and everything, except that the thing likely won't accept any info without the right name (which is part of the data taken from each card) attached. In other words, the thing would either key to the first name scanned or would come pre-registered with a name already attached.

      That's not to say that it wouldn't be hackable (I haven't looked into their encryption methods - anything can be hacked), but it would be a more difficult than you propose.

      Besides, the situation you describe

      • I thought about that too, but my name is different on some of my cards so this would not be practical.

        Its Last name, First name in some. First Last in others. First Initial Last in yet others, etc. I have one card where my last name is misspelled (its ok phonetically).

        Also now that i think about it, this needs some kind of text entry too, cos it would need to store the CVV to be displayed on screen at purchase time.

        *CVV is the 4 digit number middle right in AmEx cards, or 3 digit at the end of the CC num
        • The order of last/first name displayed on the card shouldn't matter to the device when gathering the data from the strip/RFID, much like when displaying data pulled from a database. It should be sending something like "Last name: XXXXXX" and "First name: XXXXXX". As for misspellings, that would be something I'd want fixed on a card I use. :)

          Note that I'm not a real proponent for this. Like others, I consider it something wallets and purses already take care of. This would just be something else to car

          • If i recall correctly the iso standard (it was something like 4016 or 4909) placed the name as only one field in the strip, but i could be wrong about this.
    • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:44AM (#8483185)
      and even memorize the RFID signals of devices like the Mobil SpeedPass.

      Hey, slick, it can memorize a SpeedPass code. Gee, what could posiably go wrong with this?

      Now we gotta wrap our speed pass in tin foil too!

    • I'm not as frightened about misuse with credit or debit cards (since those have a fair variety of built-in security.) I'm much more concerned with the ability to scan somebody's card key and enter virtually any building that uses an RFID card key system.

      This is going to be the kind of tool that buglars stay up all night praying for!

  • by sjalex ( 757770 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:11AM (#8483006)
    This sounded cool to me for a few seconds until I thought, what happens when the cashier at the quick-n-go tries to verify your credit card against your license? Stephen
  • Just what I need, only ONE card to lose, sounds like a royal pain IMO.
    • I don't know that you'd have to destroy your credit/eft card once you transferred the information to it. You could keep the 'originals' at home or somewhere else safe.

      If you did lose/have stolen your wallet, at least you'd know that they'd have to actually hack into the card rather than simply use the visa which would otherwise be in there. Of course, once a backdoor is found it would presumably be easy to automate.

      While having the card hacked into is a risk, there are lots of other ways to get at the sam
  • by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:12AM (#8483012)
    and your thumb!
    • and your thumb!

      I see the parent is modded as "funny," but this is actually a realistic threat. If someone steals my current batch of credit cards, all they need to do is forge my signature, or maybe not even that. No real inducement to harm me, and actually an inducement to keep me from even knowing a theft took place. Now there's a bonus for taking my thumb.

      My suggestion: use your little finger. Then either you'll be able to convince them that they should take the less valuable digit, or if they'r

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:13AM (#8483016)
    It's not quite clear if Visa or Mastercard will allow its member stores to accept Chameleon Cards in place of real plastic cards. Afterall, that card won't be able to mimic the Visa or MS holigram, the color-printed signature strip with code number on it, or the physical impression of the card numbers.

    Accepting non-original cards opens up the risk of accepting any card with a magnetic stripe as being a stand-in for the real credit card. It would effectively turn all in-person credit card transaction to being as insecure as a web transaction. There's a reason why web merchants have to pay more for their credit card services, and it's that insecurity.

    So, it's near certian that Visa and Mastercard accepting stores will be ordered by the card networks not to accept Chameleon Cards from customers. Game over for this technology... it works in the lab but won't work in the real world.
    • Its been my experience that merchants give a crap what your card looks like as long as it scans the first or second time and doesn't create problems for them. My personal card has a hole drilled in it (to facilitate key-chaining), the hologram is worn off. The 3-digit security number on the back is also unreadable (memorized). A good chunk of the Mag stripe is worn to the bare plastic and its actually plastic-white. Merchants couldn't care less. They need it to scan, and little less.

      If nothing else, cr

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:32AM (#8483379)
      I am always _very_ surprised to hear, you american people, describe their credit card system.

      It sounds like middle-age era to the europeans.

      For more than ten years now, we have anbandonned the use of the magnetic tape (not to speak of imprinting...).

      Every credit card is equipped with a chip, is protected by a password (a four-digit code) that has to be typed on the card-reader for _anything_ you buy. And if the price is higher than some limit (say $100), the system contacts your bank.
      No signature is ever used.
      If you want to steal a card, you have to ask for the code (still better than to be asked for your thumb, btw).

      It is difficult to copy a card. You cannot simply read it and make a copy. There have been some breach in the past, they have been somewhat fixed afterwards. They have remained small in their extend, and the bank had to cover any subsequent loss themselves (by law). It would be possible to do something even better, but apparently, the costs of upgrading the system are higher than those induced by fraud.

      I guess it is the same issue that makes you keep your aging system.
      • I am always _very_ surprised to hear, you american people, describe their credit card system. It sounds like middle-age era to the europeans

        I think it's probably due to the different economic and social pressures involved, the strongest being the fact that most US card producing companies are mostly of the large, monolithic type. I've been in an actual room where First Chicago - National Bank of Detroit produces CC's, and not only is the entire Haggerty Road Tech Center building under tight security but t

  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:14AM (#8483019) Homepage Journal
    what if you want to imprint the card?

    or verify a signature?
    not too good..

    • Imprinting the card and verifying that the signature you captured is the signature on the back of the card are ways that a store can prove that it made a card-present transaction. Having just the numbers and expiration date is only good enough to make a card-not-present transaction.

      Card-not-present transactions cost more in merchant fees because there is of course a higher risk of fraud when the physical properties of the card aren't being checked. Therefore, stores won't go for this.
    • Also many cards are coming out with chips on'em, and I seriously doubt this thing will be able to mimic those.
  • Big Ouch at the ATM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by breakinbearx ( 672220 ) <> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:14AM (#8483021)
    One has to wonder... what happens if the ATM eats your card? Then again, if the ATM is likely to eat your card, you probably don't have the cash for this gadget anyways.
  • by Daniel Quinlan ( 153105 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:15AM (#8483028) Homepage
    and is unlocked with the user's fingerprint

    I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have it use a password. I think most people would happily give a sufficiently threatening criminal their 4 digit PIN number (or any style of password) without too much of a fuss, but I'd rather avoid giving anyone any incentive whatsoever to leave me short one digit. It would be a very small consolation to cancel my credit cards after such an incident.

  • by irokitt ( 663593 ) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (ruai-setirdnamihcra)> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:15AM (#8483029)
    That's right, this is the card that Ford Prefect swipes from his new Editor so he can hack into the basement computers with the help of his pet robot and....
  • by Tmack ( 593755 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:15AM (#8483030) Homepage Journal
    To me this just screams Identity theft. All a clerk has to do is have one of these in their pockets and swipe customer's cards to get a copy of it. No more need to cash it out on the spot (as with carrying around a second whole credit card scanner), they can use it anywhere they want, and have it report their name on the peice of plastic. And by capturing rfid tags? Doesnt that beat the "security" Speedpass and others like it are supposed to have built in? This thing doesnt seem to check whos card its scanning in, just asks for a finger print. This is essentially a credit-card coppier thats pocket sized. Sure its a little secure against itself being stolen and used by ID theifs, but what about ID thiefs using it against other consumers?


  • by wideBlueSkies ( 618979 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:18AM (#8483045) Journal
    I don't know about other folks, but I've got 3 credit cards, a NYC Metro Card(transit fares), an Employee IS and a drivers license in my wallet.

    I wouldn't call that a stack and it's manageable. Never even though of this as being a problem before reading the article.

    If someone were to use this gadget, they'd have the 'stack' of cards, AND the gadget to worry about. Right?

    Sounds like a waste to me.... Nothing to see here, move along please.

  • ATM? (Score:2, Funny)

    by cybermint ( 255744 ) *
    How am I going to stick that thing into an ATM?
  • by tylernt ( 581794 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:19AM (#8483049)
    It wasn't insanely exciting to look at. It was rather dull in fact. It was smaller and a little thicker than a credit card and semi-transparent. If you held it up to the light you could see a lot of holographically encoded information and images buried pseudo-inches deep beneath its surface.

    It was an Ident-i-Eeze, and was a very naughty and silly thing for Harl to have lying around in his wallet, though it was perfectly understandable. There were so many different ways in which you were required to provide absolute proof of your identity these days that life could easily become extremely tiresome just from that factor alone, never mind the deeper existential problems of trying to function as a coherent consciousness in an epistemologically ambiguous physical universe. Just look at cash point machines, for instance. Queues of people standing around waiting to have their fingerprints read, their retinas scanned, bits of skin scraped from the nape of the neck and undergoing instant (or nearly instant-a good six or seven seconds in tedious reality) genetic analysis, then having to answer trick questions about members of their family they didn't even remember they had, and about their recorded preferences for tablecloth colours. And that was just to get a bit of spare cash for the weekend. If you were trying to raise a loan for a jetcar, sign a missile treaty or pay an entire restaurant bill things could get really trying.

    Hence the Ident-i-Eeze. This encoded every single piece of information about you, your body and your life into one all-purpose machine-readable card that you could then carry around in your wallet, and therefore represented technology's greatest triumph to date over both itself and plain common sense.

    Ford pocketed it.
  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:20AM (#8483053)
    Instead of stealing one or two cards (since I don't carry all my credit cards with me at one time)
    A thief can now just steal my vault and get access to not only my credit cards, but get discounts at my grocery store!

    I gotta go with the last line... It sounds cool, but it's just more hassle to actually use come purchase time.
    "Honey, this was a lovely dinner of sushi, are you sure this isn't too expensive"
    "No problem, I'm just going to pay with my pocket vault... and...uh"
    "What's wrong?"
    "I've got soy sauce on the fingerprint scanner and now it won't authenticate me and give me my credit card!"
    "Don't you have cash?"
    "I don't use cash because I have the pocket vault! AUUGGGHH THE BATTERY WENT DEAD!"
  • Here [] is the original universal card.

  • by eddie can read ( 631836 ) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:23AM (#8483073)
    Let me list the reasons why

    1) Cumbersome

    2) Breakable

    3) All eggs in one basket

    4) A lost/stolen card is replaced by the credit card company. Who replaces that lost/stolen $200 computer?

    5) What do you do when the batteries run out

    6) What happens when the OS crashes and the information is wiped out?

    So many reasons...
    • 1) Cumbersome

      Picture shows that it fits in a wallet

      2) Breakable

      You can always use your real credit cards. What if a palm pilot breaks? You write things down on paper. . .

      3) All eggs in one basket

      Agree with this.. would rather not have everything linked in one breakable / trackable / hackable system.

      4) A lost/stolen card is replaced by the credit card company. Who replaces that lost/stolen $200 computer?

      You spill pasta sauce on your sweater, you buy a new one and are much more careful if it is exp

      • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:19AM (#8483327)
        1) Cumbersome
        Picture shows that it fits in a wallet

        Picture is clearly photoshopped. The real consumer product has yet to ship.

        2) Breakable
        You can always use your real credit cards. What if a palm pilot breaks? You write things down on paper. . .

        That's nice, but you're still out the $200 device.

        3) All eggs in one basket
        Agree with this.. would rather not have everything linked in one breakable / trackable / hackable system.

        Good, so there's no risk of you wasting $200 on this.

        4) A lost/stolen card is replaced by the credit card company. Who replaces that lost/stolen $200 computer?
        You spill pasta sauce on your sweater, you buy a new one and are much more careful if it is expensive.

        My solution is to not wear $200 shirts very often, and definitely not to eat pasta while doing so. A $200 device had better be durable if it's going to live in my pocket.

        5) What do you do when the batteries run out
        Considering the plethora or small handheld devices out there, why is this one so much harder to track charge for?

        Because having my MP3 player stop playing music isn't as embarassing as not being able to buy what I just took to the checkout.

        6) What happens when the OS crashes and the information is wiped out?
        Well, you reload the data from either the credit cards again or the backup that was made

        You're most likely to discover such a failure while shopping... again, the embarassment situation.
  • If the Pocket Vault (should it ever make it to market) is ever lost, one should not use any backup to restore its values to another unit as the company suggests the consumer make. What they should to is to contact the issuer of every card stored on it and inform the issuer that the card has been compromised. The issuers will then instantly revoke the lost numbers making them worthless, and send out new cards right away.

    That'd be the secure way to do things. Any computer backup of this device's contents is
  • Then how do you let a friend borrow your card?
  • [..] and even memorize the RFID signals of devices like the Mobil SpeedPass.

    That gives me lots of confidence in the security of Speedpass cards. I predict wonderful "learning experiences" as RFID reading/duplicating technology moves down to individuals. Of course, legal threats are already being used to try to keep that genie in the bottle. (Previous story on Slashdot about nasty letters to people who bought smartcard readers for legitimate reasons.) Sure, that'll work...

  • No a theif can cut any card they want - the initial investment will only be $200!

    Well, it looks neat. But it also looks like a really good tool for theives.

    Kewl as hell though, for $200 bucks I'd probably buy one... or two... or three... ahh hell gimme the lot of 'em!
  • by Burstwave ( 520213 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:29AM (#8483118)
    The Chamelon Card system uses a fingerprint reader to secure the data vault. Fingerprint readers can be defeated using a simple hack involving common household items. I refer interested readers to the following article: []
  • I really like this idea, and I'd hope they could add a feature for remembering passwords too (though I know those exist already) but the use of a fingerprint worries me. Fingerprint scanners are easy enough to defeat as it is, and if it's only going to be one person using it again and again, it may get even easier. Hopefully they'll work out something to mitigate this before they bring it to market. In any event, this would certainly deter the casual wallet thief. Once I'm out of school and have a decen
  • by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:30AM (#8483124)
    "...get a hold of some fucking cash, will ya?"

  • How much memory does one of these devices have?

    64k? 128? 1 meg? 2 meg? 128 meg?

    Hmmm....a better question would be, does it support relational databases that store gigs of information, and hook upto a PC?
  • by sydbarrett74 ( 74307 ) <`sydbarrett74' `at' `'> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:39AM (#8483170)
    What if my Chameleon Card is lost or stolen? With conventional plastic, I can call the issuer, report the card lost/stolen, and have a replacement sent within a couple of days for free (be wary of those companies that would charge you for this service). What is my recourse with Chameleon? Ponying up another $200? Also, what if I destroyed my original cards when transferring their data to the Chameleon device? Is there an online backup somewhere? Or am I shit out of luck?
    • They suggest you create an online backup, but it's of little use. The proper thing to do is to go to your most recent statements to get the account number and the number you need to call to reach customer service.
  • by code_rage ( 130128 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:42AM (#8483179)
    I think it would be much easier to start with a simpler problem: digital cash. I would love to have a card that can hold up to about $100 that is anonymous and which I could use for bus fare, parking meters, road tolls, or small purchases like meals. This would be a natural for on-line purchases of paid content (iTunes, archived news stories).

    By being anonymous, my privacy would be protected (at least in theory). It would also be completely unconnected to my credit cards and bank accounts, so it could never be used to steal more than $100 from me.

    This is not a trivial problem -- it has some of the same problems as voting (anonymity & non-repudiation).

    I think this is already being done in Europe. If only the US would catch up.
  • by Valen0 ( 325388 ) <michael AT elvenstar DOT tv> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:47AM (#8483195)
    One Card to rule them all, one Card to find them
    One Card to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
    In the Land of Cameleon Network where the Shadows lie.
  • Hey, didn't John Connor already have one of these? His would even crack PINs and stuff too!
  • by Jarnis ( 266190 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:47AM (#8483441)
    - It's expensive. Too expensive for a trinket that might be lost/damaged in everyday life. Credit card lost? No biggie - you just cancel it, request new one. At worst you pay few bucks fee for replacement card.

    - Lose this trinket, and you just gave *every damn card/id thingy ya had* to a thief. Yeah yeah its fingerprint keyed. So what? The data is inside and everything is ultimately hackable.

    - It can obiviously be used to swipe magnetic strip data off other people's cards you may be able to handle. As a bonus if it can 'dupe' smartcards, Visa & co wont be happy - they just spent gazillions in moving every (insecure) magnetic card to ones with chip inside. I think their timetable is something like by end of 2005 every Visa card is a smartcard. I'd expect credit card companies to sue the pants off this company for unauthorized reverse engineering of their security features against duplication in the cards. DMCA will be used to pwn these guys. (And if it does *not* dupe smartcards, it will be useless in couple of years when every card becomes one)

    - Big credit card companies will just tell to the retailers not to accept anything except Genunie Visa(r) Card(tm) :) - logos and all. And if you expect chameleon cards to be allowed to display those logos, think again. Not to mention that a chameleon card would either have to display gazillion different logos (fishy, wouldn't pass in most stores without tons of education and approval of credit card companies), or you'd need a custom card for every card you have - in which case the whole toy is useless.

    - Huge hassles with most clerks refusing the cards 'swiped on' with this trinket even without guidance from credit card companies - "that's not a visa card, are you trying to fool me with some thieves tool with copied card data?". The education required to train every damn minimum wage clerk in the world to identify and accept this thingy in place of a real card would be astronomical - EVEN if the card companies would go along with it. boom coming back? This company is beyond loony to even attempt to develop something this stupid.
  • by srussell ( 39342 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @09:29AM (#8484275) Homepage Journal
    ... smaller is better.

    This'll be great if it takes up less space in my wallet than a half dozen cards. Otherwise, I'll wait for a future, slimmer, version.

    Seriously, though, this could be a great idea. Three credit cards, a driver's license, three insurance cards (dental, medical, and auto)... plus a bunch of other cards I don't carry because I rarely use them (voter's registration card, etc) and are therefore at perpetual risk of being lost; this thing has a lot of potential.

    The owner is in control of the information on the device, and it appears actually safer than carrying regular credit cards since it can't be used by thieves (assuming it also proves to be secure). My only questions center around the RFID tag, but they could be easily satisfied.

  • Not on the strip (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gyorg_Lavode ( 520114 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @09:47AM (#8484349)
    So what about the material not stored on the magnetic strip? The security number, and such. Not all the information on a credit card etc is on the strip and to truely be effective it's going to have to store this information.

    Plus, can I sit on it?

  • by BeerSlurpy ( 185482 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:48PM (#8485196)
    Credit card thieves dont physically steal the card anymore. Most often they have their own card reader like this device and they will swipe your card an extra time under the table and pretend it didnt go through the first time.

    A week or two later they make a fake card with your magnetic stripe and usually go on a 5000 dollar (the usual single day limit on most cards) spending spree and then fence the goods. The consumer discovers 5000 dollars on his card, usually from stuff purchased when he was in another state, at work, on the international space station, etc and calls the bank up. They issue a new card and reimburse the money.

    This happened to me, and not ONCE did my card leave my wallet.

    The only real solution to credit card thievery is to have intelligent software that tracks the spending habits of the legitimate user and requires extra verification before allowing out-of-the-ordinary purchases. Like if someone normally buys nothing but gas and groceriers with a credit card and suddenly buys 3000 dollars worth of stereo equipment 200 miles from where they live.... red flag!
  • Card Reader (Score:3, Interesting)

    by severoon ( 536737 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:12PM (#8485759) Journal

    What do you think of this?

    You get a single card that can store all your info, and a card reader at home. You slip the card in before you head out and unlock all the elements of it using the card reader and some kind of authentication thing like a public key (I like codes that thieves will not expect you to know off the top of your head, like a 4-digit PIN--that's dangerous...but can you see a crook saying, "Give me your Universal Card and your public key"?). You could say, unlock all my credit and debit until 8pm tonight, and leave the Visa and Mastercard unlocked until 10pm.

    You have to choose a default credit account that stays on all the time, but if you make too many purchases with it while the rest of the card is locked, the credit card company calls you and lets you know. That's it. They don't shut it off, they don't even have to have a live person call you. They just call you and say, "Someone's charging on your locked card, is it you?"

    Of course, if you prefer the credit company to be liable, then you have to allow them to shut it off if purchases don't match your typical buying profile whether it's locked or unlocked. If you want the freedom to never have your card shut off, then you agree to pay the charges.

    I don't see the point of keeping things the way they are. I don't know about you guys, but I keep all my credit cards right next to each other, so if I ever get mugged, I'm going to lose them all anyway, along with my ID. So I say stick 'em all on the same piece of plastic so I only have to track one thing. And you have to admit, it's definitely more secure than cash any way you cut it. Someone gets your cash, and what recourse do you have?


  • by Salamander ( 33735 ) <> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:27PM (#8486233) Homepage Journal

    Is it just me, or does it seem a little odd to other people that several of the principals listed on their web page (including the CTO) remain anonymous? Why the heck would anyone do that? Most companies at this stage splash the identities of their principals everywhere. These guys must have some pretty bad skeletons in their closet to hide like this.

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