Wearables have gotten a lot of attention for monitoring the calories you burn, your testosterone levels, and how long you’ve been baking in the sun. But the future of body-borne computers might not be tracking our bodies but our finances.
That’s the idea behind a new concept from the design firm Artefact, which reimagines the Fitbit as a Bluetooth-enabled bracelet you can use to make payments. Instead of clocking a morning run, Token provides a running tab of your checking account and alerts you when your spending exceeds your balance.
The Seattle-based studio sees the gadget as a secure replacement for traditional plastic credit cards, which can be easily lost or stolen. Users would need to enter a PIN on the touchscreen and scan fingerprints in order to unlock the device. The designers also imagine using Token as a way to seamlessly transfer funds among family members and friends. And instead of using a series of smartphone apps to perform all those functions, Token would provide a direct line to personal financial data across different credit-card and bank accounts.
Just how it would do that is still very much in the air. “All the moving parts are there,” says Artefact Design Director Craig Erickson, “but no one’s assembled them yet in this fashion.” He has no plans to turn the concept into reality, which would require an infrastructure for transferring money from banks directly to vendors. He regards the concept as a provocation to others to rethink the narrow focus of wearables.
The project is part of the studio’s in-house program, Startefact, an internal version of the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter that lets employees pitch and develop pie-in-the-sky concepts. Instead of raising money, however, the designers receive chunks of time to make prototypes of their ideas. This is the first such concept that the firm has released to the public.