Ready to enter a cardless future but not quite sure about NFC? The Protean Echo might be for you. This clever project essentially captures your credit cards onto one multi-purpose card that can hold up to three cards at a time.
It works like this: you scan your magnetic stripe cards into a smartphone app using a supplied dongle. You can then “upload” three cards to the Protean Echo and select them by tapping one of three touch-sensitive spots. The Echo’s batteries last for 2 years and you can store as many cards as you want on your phone.
The Protean Echo uses a dynamic stipe system to mimic the way credit cards store data on the fly, thereby reducing clutter in your wallet.
Now obviously what we’re dealing with here is a card skimmer with some very cool, Terminator 2 Edward Furlong-type technology. Presumably you wouldn’t skim other people’s cards and only yours and you’re obviously going to meet some uptight merchants who want to see the original card so I suspect the use case will be limited to swiping at unattended kiosks or ATMs. Plus, it’s just some credit cards. It’s not that big a deal to slip them into a wallet.
Regardless, these guys are going to give it a try and for $80 you can reduce the size of your wallet by at least three credit cards. They’re planning a Kickstarter launch shortly and you can check out the website here.