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CalypsoKey adds NFC capability to the iPhone

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February 6, 2013

The CalypsoKey can be used to unlock a door, or for almost any other NFC function

The CalypsoKey can be used to unlock a door, or for almost any other NFC function

Image Gallery (6 images)

One major feature missing from Apple's iPhone, that's commonplace on many high-end Android devices, is near field communication (NFC). This allows NFC-capable devices to interact with one another, to make no-contact payments at businesses, or even to lock and unlock NFC-enabled door locks. Calypso Crystal is hoping to rectify the situation with its new CalypsoKey.

The CalypsoKey works with one of Calypso's other products, the CalypsoCase iPhone case. The small NFC device hides inside of the case, and uses a dual-band RFID antenna to perform its NFC functions. Calypso Crystal says that the antenna is compatible with most RFID NFC systems worldwide, so you shouldn't be limited in what you can do with the device.

Because the CalypsoKey supports a wide range of NFC devices, most RFID cards can be programmed into it, making it quite a versatile little piece of hardware.

The CalypsoCases come in plenty of styles and colors, but they are all made from leather, which is stylish, but may not suit the tastes of all users. The most affordable option is the CalypsoCase Loop, which has a US$119 price tag (including a CalypsoKey). The CalypsoCase Cabrio and CalypsoCase Ring will set you back $129.

The Loop and Ring both hold the phone over the front and back, while the Cabrio locks the phone in on the back only. While all styles of cases are available for both the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5, the NFC capability is only available on the iPhone 5 models.

iPhone users looking for NFC functionality might also want to check out the FloJack NFC reader/writer.

The video below demonstrates the CalypsoKey in action.

Source: Calypso Crystal via Uncrate

About the Author
Dave LeClair Dave is an avid follower of all things mobile, gaming, and any kind of new technology he can get his hands on. Ever since he first played an NES as a child, he's been an absolute tech and gaming junkie.   All articles by Dave LeClair
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4 Comments

Considering that security researchers could crack NFC from a distance, almost from its inception -- well, its commercial release, anyway -- I don't see any reason to berate Apple for not having it. If I currently owned a device with NFC, I would turn it off and leave it turned off.

Aside from commercial transactions, which as I say I would not be doing with NFC anyway, NFC does not do anything that could not already be done just as easily with Bluetooth or WiFi, with the sole exception of proximity sensing. You have to be within NFC range of course. Big deal.

That is to say: you have to be within NFC range if you're actually using an NFC device. If you were using anything wit a more powerful transmitter, you could do the same things from a distance.

I have no use for NFC as a technology. It's broken, I don't need it, and I don't want it. I simply don't see a compelling use-case.

Anne Ominous
6th February, 2013 @ 06:07 pm PST

i dont get the point should i have been worried about that technology or happy but as far as i see this can be totally breached the NFC functionality in every device gives me creeps as i am security professional and i rather switch off my device having this functionality but what can i say Apple also goes for it just as the others.

Facebook User
7th February, 2013 @ 02:51 am PST

NFC wont take off, apart from payment systems in credit cards etc for contactless payments. Having them in your smart phone is not an necessity.

Tommo
7th February, 2013 @ 03:38 am PST

There are a few misconceptions stated here. The article gives the impression that the Calypso line of cases have NFC reader/writer functionality built in. I don't think that's the case (no pun intended). They are simply using an NFC tag embedded in the leather to authenticate the owner. This of course is no different than placing a $1 NFC sticker on the back of your phone.

@Anne Ominous, NFC does not encrypt data traffic so it's up to the application to add security (check out Verayo and their PUFs). Compared to Bluetooth or Wifi, it can actually be made more secure because of it's smaller attack surface. But leaving security aside, I wanted to highlight a feature of NFC that makes it very compelling: passive tags. With prices in the single cent range, you will soon find these on CPGs (see Kovio's tags). So now by tapping their smartphone, consumers can let the grocer, distributor, bottler, farmer, and chicken know that their eggs are bad. In theory QR or barcodes could also do this, but in practice NFC and RFID wins.

Consumer applications of NFC seem gimmicky today, but the disruption will come as ubiquity of phones sets in. Apps will be able to interact with the physical world like never before and the use cases will be mind blowing I'm sure.

Richard Grundy
25th February, 2013 @ 03:07 am PST
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