Design blueprint of a screenless wearable for contactless payments

Article By : Majeed Ahmad

Chipmakers are providing major IoT building blocks to wearable design developers to support contactless payments using biometrics.

A screenless wearable device interprets human gestures and uses biometric data to pick up a call or make contactless payments. The Turin, Italy-based startup Deed has launched a bracelet called “get” that the company’s CEO Edoardo Parini sees as the next leap into wearable evolution. “It’s the perfect bridge between ‘you‘ and ‘your’ digital-self.”

Figure 1 The “get” screenless wristband enables communication and contactless payment using biometrics data. Source: Infineon

The smart wristband performs contactless payments after individual electrocardiogram-based biometric identification. Its contactless payment functionality is based on Infineon Technologies AG’s SECORA Connect NFC platform that enables smart wearables to securely provision, store, select, and use multiple credentials such as payment cards. Moreover, it allows smart wearables system designers without security and antenna design expertise to integrate this compact, ultra-low-power solution into NFC-based payment applications.

Figure 2 Inside the wearable device, made up of several layers of high-tech fabrics, is a rigid-flex PCB. Source: Infineon

This wearable device’s next major building block is a MEMS microphone that provides high-fidelity voice recording during phone calls. The device employs Infineon’s XENSIV MEMS microphones that are designed for applications where low self-noise (high SNR), wide dynamic range, low distortions, and a high acoustic overload point are required.

For wireless connectivity, the AIROC Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Combos integrates IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.2 in a single chip. And it’s connected to a PSoC 6 microcontroller that specializes in low-power design to extend battery life.

The use of biometrics for second-factor authentication is the next big thing in payment applications following signatures, embossing, magnetic stripe, and secure chip technologies. Here, instead of entering a PIN or showing an ID, the card or device holder authenticates by using a fingerprint sensor embedded on the card or wearable device.

Infineon has recently joined hands with the Oslo, Norway-based biometric specialist Zwipe to co-define and develop system-on-chips (SoCs) for mass deployment of smart biometric devices, including payment cards and wearables.

Figure 3 The tap-and-go payments with biometric cards are gaining in popularity. Source: Infineon

Infineon has teamed up with another biometric company in Oslo, Norway to develop a reference design for biometric payment cards. Infineon’s collaboration with NEXT Biometrics has led to creating a biometric card reference design that comprises a biometric module, a secure element, an operating system with biometric and payment applets, and a recommended pre-lamination and lamination method for manufacturing the card.

Figure 4 The reference design for biometric cards enables secure biometric smart card payment with significantly reduced false rejection rates to below one percent. Source: Infineon

These developments show that the hardware and software building blocks for biometrics-based smart payments are now ready and available. That allows startups like Italy’s Deed to focus on a product idea and bring their designs to market quickly.

This article was originally published on EDN.

Majeed Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief of EDN and Planet Analog, has covered the electronics design industry for more than two decades.

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