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This Beautiful Ring Could Make Your Life a Lot More Secure and Convenient

Token promises to put your payment cards, transit cards, and card keys all on one simple ring.

Getting tired of hearing about wearables? If you’ve really gotten into the wearable tech phenomenon, you might just be running out of space on your wrists and fingers! Melanie and Steve Shapiro, two of the minds behind the Case Bitcoin wallet, think you should make room for one more, and they’ve got a pretty good argument. The Token ring is a new kind of wearable that is out to make high security convenient — and fashionable.

Token is a sterling silver ring, but it’s not here to flash and vibrate when someone calls. Instead, it’s one ring to rule all your electronic keys and cards — payment cards included. Using Token, it’ll be possible to pay for public transit at the turnstile, unlock doors, make payments, and eventually, a whole lot more — CEO Melanie Shapiro describes it as, “all of your digital keys in one place, while taking up less physical real estate than a credit card.”

The ring can do all of that with a single or double tap. It’s outfitted with both NFC and Bluetooth technology, allowing it to be used at contactless payment terminals, many of which are showing up in public transit systems around the world. Token also works with HID, the standard behind a lot of door locks in businesses, organizations, and hotels.

Payments will work the same way as many smartphone-based payment apps — after provisioning your payment card (Token works with MasterCard and Visa) to the ring using an app, just tap to pay at any payment terminal that works with NFC. Same goes for the public transit systems that have adopted EMV-based contactless payments — in the United States, that includes Chicago and Salt Lake City, with Philadelphia, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York all coming soon. That means frequent travelers with Token don’t have to worry about keeping track of each city’s transit card — even if they go abroad. Fares will be charged in the currency of that country, as long as they’re also on board with EMV payments (London is one example).

Token has big plans for access, but they won’t be fully realized at launch. Ideally, the ring would replace door keys, hotel card keys, car key fobs, and badges at the office, but some of those features aren’t ready yet. If you talk to the security officer at your workplace, you can get your office card or badge provisioned, but Token hasn’t partnered up with any hotel chains just yet. Token will be able to unlock car doors at launch, but won’t be able to start cars until next year.

The trouble with door locks is a bit different. While Token does have Bluetooth connectivity, the founders are focused on security above all — and smart Bluetooth locks are just a bit too insecure for their tastes. They’d prefer to work with NFC-activated door locks, but those don’t exist — so they made their own! The Token Lock will be available to anyone who wants a more secure smart door lock, but Shapiro assured me that this wasn’t a sign of things to come — Token would much rather focus on making keys than making locks or other smart home devices.

Speaking of security, Token has a really clever way of making sure no one but you can use your ring. Two-factor authentication is often spoken about, but not used often enough. This is where you enter two kinds of keys to login to something — maybe a password followed by a temporary code sent to your phone. As Shapiro pointed out when I talked to her, the main problem is that most people see that as cumbersome, so habits don’t change.

Token also uses two-factor authentication of a sort, but you’ll never know it. The first step is your fingerprint — every morning, you’ll touch a sensor on the inside of the ring to activate it. The genius part is that the second step takes no effort on your part. There’s an optical sensor inside the ring that can tell when it’s being worn. If the ring is slipped off for even a second, your fingerprint will be needed to reactivate Token — if it’s stolen, there’s nothing the thief can do with it. All of the info is stored in a EAL5+ certified secure element, which is extremely difficult to crack.

The focus on security extends to Bluetooth. Token prefers to use NFC when possible, but does include Bluetooth connectivity. But, Bluetooth is turned off by default, to prevent the ring from being spotted as a Bluetooth beacon. It’ll only be temporarily activated when needed by double tapping, and will shut off again immediately after it’s been used. That also helps to preserve battery life — Token will last two weeks on one charge, and comes with a wireless inductive charger.

Being a wearable, Token has to look good, too. The sterling silver ring is sleek enough to work for both men and women, and comes in brushed silver, black rhodium plating, or rose gold plating. A little rain won’t hurt form or function, either — Token is waterproof.

It won’t be cheap, though. Starting today, Token can be preordered for $250. That’s a high price, especially for functions that could be added just as easily to a phone. But, Shapiro thinks there’s value in having a separate device — convenience. Instead of taking out your phone at a public transit turnstile or a checkout counter, a quick ring tap will get you through with no hassle. That’s still a high price for convenience, but they don’t call it king for nothing.

In addition to the ring, Token is offering bundles with the accessories they have planned. $350 gets you the ring and the Token Lock or the ring and the car plug, while $400 gets you everything. Token currently has December 2017 as the ship date for all of the above.

 

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