RIM ‘pinch to pay’ patent offers more control over NFC transactions

A patent application filed by Research in Motion uses touch sensors built into the sides of a phone to switch its NFC functionality on and off, with the aim of reducing consumers’ security and privacy concerns — and reducing drain on the handset’s battery.

SQUEEZE: Touch sensors 52, 53 and 54 would give consumers greater NFC control (click to enlarge)

A patent application filed in 2008 by Research in Motion, manufacturer of the BlackBerry smartphone range, has just been published.

The ‘pinch to pay’ patent application sets out a way to reduce consumers’ fears that their NFC-enabled phone could be used to make a contactless payment without them being aware of it and, at the same time, ensures that the device’s NFC functionality uses as little power as possible when it is not in use.

Mobile wireless communications device having touch activated near field communication (NFC) circuit‘ suggests that touch sensors would be placed on each side of a handset. These would be positioned so that, when the consumer holds his phone to an NFC tag or transaction terminal, his fingers will be in the right place to activate the sensors and switch on the NFC functionality. A side benefit of this would be that it also encourages the consumer to orientate his phone correctly.

Once the NFC operation had been performed the consumer would change his grip on the phone and, a set period of time after the sensors stopped recording pressure, the NFC functionality would be switched off.

The patent application also suggests that a third sensor could be incorporated centrally near the base of the phone, in an area the consumer would be unlikely to touch whilst using the phone’s NFC functionality. This would be used to reduce false positives, by ensuring that NFC functionality is always switched off if this sensor is touched.

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