Geode and iPhone plan to replace your wallet (Video)

iCache Geode wants to replace your wallet with an iPhone case -- and it just might work.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

One of the Kickstarter projects that I'm most excited about is iCache's Geode, the smartest iPhone case than I've ever seen. In fact, calling it a "case" doesn't do it justice because Geode has the potential to replace your entire wallet.

At first blush I wrote Geode off as one of those silly iPhone cases with a pocket on the back to store a credit card or ID. Not the case.

Here's how it works:

Geode is an iPhone Appcessory that stores credit cards, loyalty cards, gift cards, and membership cards and protects the information with biometric security. The onboard universal card and e-ink barcode screen means that any card can be stored in the Geode and used anytime, anywhere.

1. GeoCard Geode comes with a universal GeoCard that's re-writable on the fly and can be used at any point-of-sale terminal. It can be reprogrammed to be your American Express, Visa, Exxon Mobile or any other credit card with a few touches. Then you simply swipe it at your merchant's terminal, sign and go. Need to it be Sunoco? Diner's Club? No problem, the GeoCard morphs into whichever one you want with a touch.

iCache Geode wants to replace your wallet with an iPhone case - Jason O'Grady

2. E-ink display A black and white (e-ink) screen on the back panel (above) displays the barcode from the affinity cards that you carry (grocery store, gym membership, library card, etc.) and is activated within the app. According to iCache, it chose an e-ink display for affinity cards because the vast majority of merchants still use laser barcode scanners which can't read a 1D barcode from a phone screen ("it is just a matter of physics").

3. Physical card reader To make card entry easier, iCache includes a detachable card reader (above in yellow) which plugs into the bottom of the Geode allowing easy scanning of store and credit cards. When you're finished just detach it and store it for safekeeping. Loyalty cards can be added by taking a photo of the barcode with iPhone's built-in camera.

4. Biometric security Geode's biometric fingerprint scanner (just below the home button above) controls access to the app -- and your credit cards by extension. The Universal GeoCard has auto-timeout feature just in case you lose it.

The CardStar (free, App Store) app attempts to turn all your affinity cards into on-screen barcodes never really worked on my iPhone -- mostly due to outdated laser scanners at the retailers that I frequent (Staples, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, etc.) I usually end up handing over my iPhone to the clerk so that they can manually enter the numbers into the register. Several people told me that CardStar works every time for them, but I haven't been as lucky.

The Starbucks Card Mobile app (free, App Store) -- which had 26 million mobile payment transactions in 2011 -- scans every time, but that that's because Starbucks replaced all of its barcode scanners with new models that are more sensitive to 1D barcodes.

iCache recently added this update to its Kickstarter page:

Rest assured,

  • the Geode uses minimal power
  • the Geode cannot be used to Clone Cards
  • comes with everything you need to get going
  • enables merchants to verify the transaction
  • and we are putting in an iPhone 5 upgrade incentive exclusively for our kickstarter friends.

Here's the video:

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