Currently, SIM cards are one of the main ways to transfer your personal information to a new electronic device on one of the global networks. The idea is that you put your SIM card into the electronic device and it becomes connected to your phone number, wireless account, and every other bit of personal information needed to get and keep you online and connected. But as our technology becomes increasingly smaller, and wearable electronics become more common, the need for a simpler and smaller solution is becoming apparent.
To help move SIM technology into the 21st century with the rest of electronics, Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile provider is developing a small and portable device that is intended to transmit your credentials to almost any electronic device around you. Called the NTT Portable SIM (no props for a creative name), it was initially developed as a prototype in 2014 and is currently still being tested and revised. Incorporating SIM, Bluetooth, and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, the NTT Portable SIM is about the size of a thick credit card, but the company has plans to downsize their product so that it can be incorporated into wearable technology, such as the Apple Watch, and anything else you need to have connected.
Docomo’s offering is actually much more than just a SIM card that can be electronically transported to any electronic device. It also provides a means for people to switch between entire profiles, screens, and even identities on devices. From both a business and even a family point of view, this seems like a great opportunity. For families, you can finally pick up a device, such as an LTE quipped iPad, and instead of using the same home screen for your whole family, with it filled with numerous games to entertain your children, it could show you a personalized home screen that is tailored to your preferences. For work, it could allow for communal computers and handheld electronics that no longer have a need to log out an employee before another one can be logged in. Instead, just hold the NTT Portable SIM next to the electronic and watch as it is tailored to you, complete with your phone number and your profile.
This sort of technology should enable companies and individuals to work more efficiently, and to decrease their reliance on personal devices. I can see the NTT Portable SIM being immensely beneficial for businesses, both with large cash reserves and those that don’t have them. For the poorer company it could enable them to use more communal electronics thus saving money. For the wealthy company, they can decrease the time necessary for individuals to log onto company machines and can even enable employees to use one phone for personal use and work, but to switch the profile to personal use after leaving the office so that they can avoid paying additional overtime.
Is it a product that is likely to have broad appeal? Yes and no. No, in its current incarnation it doesn’t seem likely to have a broad appeal, but as additional companies adopt the technology, yes it does seem likely. Chances are just that it will have to be adopted quickly by a large number of companies though for it to take off.
Photo credit: Shawn Moore