Chameleon Card

The Chameleon Card is a programmable card in development at Chameleon Network that can represent each of the owner's credit, debit, and customer cards as required, making it unnecessary to carry all of the aforementioned. Working in conjunction with a small handheld device called the Pocket Vault, the Chameleon Card has security features that guard against identity theft, physical theft of cards, and theft of credit card information over the Internet. The device also has built in radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and the capacity to display a user's photo.

Here's how it works:

The Pocket Vault reads and stores the information from your cards in a secure Internet session while docked to a computer. After reading the information from a card, it displays an icon for it on its touch screen. To make a transaction, you must identify yourself through fingerscanning authentication and select the card you want to use. When you make your selection, the Pocket Vault programs the appropriate information into the card and emits it for use. The usual information, such as a credit card number and expiration date, appear on the card's display area. You just swipe the card in the usual way and a transducer under the card's black strip works with the magnetic card reader.

Although the idea of only carrying a single card (rather than the dozen or more in the typical person's wallet) is appealing, the security features may be a more compelling reason to purchase the device. Because the Pocket Vault requires secure biometric authentication, it won't work for anyone but the legitimate user. If your wallet is stolen, the thief has no access to information that could be used to assume your identity. Furthermore, even if someone steals the card while it's activated, the potential harm is limited -- after 10 minutes, the information on the card is rendered unreadable, and the transducer stops working. The device docks to your computer for online transactions, which means that your information need never be stored on your computer or on a Web site's customer database, thus thwarting would-be thieves phishing for credit card information over the Internet.

This was last updated in September 2005

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