SIM cards are such lowly pieces of technology that we tend to forget they even exist until we have to switch phones or – the horror – something goes wrong. In essence, the humble SIM card has remained unchanged since its inception decades ago. Japanese carrier NTT Docomo thinks it’s time for a change.
The concept behind Portable SIM is simple – instead of using a SIM card for each device you own, you get one universal SIM that you can connect on the fly to any device using NFC and Bluetooth.
So, how does it work? Whenever you want to use a device, simply touch it with the Portable SIM. After a quick pairing, you get access to your phone number and data connection, without the hassle of swapping SIM cards. The system also works with credentials for services from Google, Facebook, or Amazon, so your apps could log you in automatically. And, for security reasons, the device will log you out when the Bluetooth connection with the Personal SIM is lost.
In the current implementation, Portable SIM is a about the shape and size of a credit card, but Docomo is confident that it can pack all the functionality in an unobtrusive wearable device such as bracelet or smartwatch. And it’s not just smartphones – the carrier envisions a future where a Portable SIM provide universal access to computers, cars, smart home systems, and more.
For now Personal SIM is just a proof of concept, but Docomo says it’s exploring solutions to commercialize its innovation. Security issues, carrier reluctance, and adverse network effects will make it hard to replace the SIM card, but the field is clearly ripe for disruption.