While traveling abroad the passport takes on mythic proportions. Lose it, you lose yourself. So why, in this age of wearable wireless tech, are our passports still so difficult to properly secure?
The reasons are manifold, but a small San Diego company called iWallet believes it has a solution. iPassport is a passport-sized case that can only be accessed through a biometric fingerprint scanner—like those found on the latest iPhone models. The case itself is carbon fiber, which is durable, but certainly not invincible. If some crooks really wanted the goods from this thing they could find their way in.
But that's not the iPassport's main attraction—at least not in this writer's opinion.
The iPassport also features a Bluetooth "Smart Tethering Technology," which is really just a Bluetooth alert system found on most loss prevention devices. It links to your smartphone and sounds an alarm when one of the devices leaves a pre-defined geographic perimeter.
This is crucial, because most cases of lost passports tend to stem from mere negligence—leaving it at the bar, or on a train, or in a hostel. The device also features an RFID blocking feature to shield your passport from hackers or external tampering.
"More than 300,000 passports are lost or stolen each year in the United States alone," said Jack Chadsey, iWallet CEO, in a statement. "Considering it is not uncommon to have your passport checked four times or more between check-in and taking off at most international airports, it's easy to see how easily your documents and data can be easily misplaced or stolen."
iPassport was unveiled at CES this week, but iWallet plans to launch the product within the next few months. The retail price will be $599, which is so offensively, egregiously high that I had to do a double-take. But that's what it is folks.