Ask anybody who’s spent far too much time trying to get that tiny little tray open with a paper clip; switching out SIM cards on modern phones is an enormous pain. And it’s not just annoying for consumers. Manufacturers would also like to take the SIM card out of the equation. And now, they might be able to, thanks to the Portable SIM Card.
The SIM card, or subscriber identity module card, is essentially what confirms to a mobile network that you are who you say you are and that you have an account with your mobile provider. It also stores crucial information like your contacts, which is why you have to be careful where you store those.
NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese mobile provider, decided there was a better way, and created what amounts to a personal pass. All you do is wave it over the phone, and it get authenticated.
That’s useful in more than one way. For example, it would free you up to switch phones more easily, or even switch between phones you own. Going on a long trek? Switch over to a clamshell with seemingly endless battery life. Need to be amused in a meeting? Switch to the latest smartphone with the best games. Engineering-wise, making authentification strictly a software matter would allow for thinner, lighter, more power-efficient phones.
Unfortunately, a lot of this is still theoretical; NTT DoCoMo is working out the kinks in the idea, like for example you accidentally putting your SIM on your friend’s phone. But it’s a good idea that will likely see a lot of play in the near future, especially as phones get skinnier and cheaper. After all, would you rather switch phones with a wave of your hand… or keep messing with that stupid paper clip?
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.