Picture a scenario where you don’t have to use a physical passport to travel from one country to the next. All you need is your iPhone, which contains all your information, including biometric data, stored on a chip in the phone.
International travelers from Nigeria would certainly love this. The scenario is not hard to picture.
So when you land in either Heathrow airport in London or JFK in New York (just to give two examples), and you get to the passport control, all you have to do to identify yourself to immigration officials is use your password to release the data on your phone. That is all.
The information on your iPhone would also contain details of your visa and other documents needed to gain entry.
All the hassles of trying to make sure your passport is up to date would instantly be eliminated.
At this point, it must be pointed out that only iPhone users can use this technology if the US Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO, grants Apple the license to develop and use this technology.
If this works out the way Apple planned it, it means it would be another stick for iPhone users to beat Android users with. It is bad enough that those using iPhone are already feeling like a special breed; now Apple want to create another layer of exclusivity with this technology.
Perhaps we should all start saving money to buy an iPhone before Apple develop a technology that would make iPhone users live longer than the rest of us.
As for this Apple patent, one you can see where this is heading to: a world where passports are obsolete.
Let’s be honest though, it doesn’t matter if Apple have the patent and exclusive right to it, the Chinese would definitely find a way to develop something similar that doesn’t actually infringe on Apple’s patent.
But then again, theft of intellectual property or technology is a thing the Chinese do with impunity with the aid of the government. In other words, if this technology catches on and becomes mainstream, Android users would have a version of it in no time at all.
The concerns about this technology, for now, is what happens your phone gets missing, your battery gets low or God forbid, a glitch in the phone causes it to malfunction just when you are at the immigration desk about to verify your visa and identity. Breaks don’t come any tougher than that.
Also, there is the problem of hackers breaking into the phone to steal one’s information. Right now, that is a thing with most Android phones but it is not so common with the iPhone.
But anything is hackable for the right price. A technology like this might just be the thing to make hacking an iPhone worthwhile for hackers.
Though the security concerns would always be there, people usually adopt these new innovations after the initial skepticism. For instance, most of us take it for granted that we can transfer money to anybody using our phones at any time.
Many of us don’t remember that initially, people had the same misgivings about security and hackers concerning the use of mobile phones for banking transactions.
Sure, there are several victims of hackers and identity thieves, but by and large, a majority of the populace is spared that ordeal.
Apple still have a long way to go before this technology becomes available to the public. First, the USPTO have to grant them that license and secondly, they would have to design the hardware (secure chipset) to hold that information on the iPhone.
And of course, there is the issue of getting governments to agree to use the iPhone as a passport. Almost all countries require travelers to have a physical passport before being allowed entry.
Apple would have to reach an agreement with each jurisdiction for this to work. That entails a lot of work.
But the fact they have applied for a patent shows they know a thing about getting governments to see things their way.
Maybe, they already have a compelling pitch about why adopting the technology would be in the interest of everybody especially when it comes to increasing the amount of revenue for government and politicians.
That is the sort of language politicians all over the world relate with easily.
So what do you think about using your iPhone as a means of identification all over the world? Would you rather the world stuck to physical passports because of security concerns?