Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Redefines Touch Screen

Apr.27.08 | About: Nippon Telegraph (NTT)

You always knew you had an electric personality, and now a Japanese tech company agrees with you.

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NYSE:NTT) just started selling sample kits of Firmo, the first human-transmitter authentication system.

New Technology: Touching skin turns on your touch screen

What exactly does that mean? Firmo is an ID card, but the technology could be adapted to any small electronic device. The important part is that the card sends out a signal that uses your skin to transmit.

Yep, it turns your skin into a circuit board.

Firmo transmits at about 230 kilobytes per second. To put that in perspective, your average MP3 file is about 3,000-5,000 kilobytes. So the speed isn’t going to astound anyone, and that’s probably why the company is, so far, only marketing Firmo as an access identification system.

Like the trusty keycard RFID system that probably figures into one or more areas of your life at the moment (I don’t know about you, but I have to use two keycards to get to work in the morning. And I misplace them at least once a month.), Firmo would give you faster access into buildings than an old-fashioned key system. But unlike RFID chips, the Firmo card doesn’t have to be swiped across the reader.

New Technology: ID through your fingers and toes

You keep the card in your pocket, and it sends a signal across your skin to a receiver imbedded in the doorknob or the floor (Oh, calm down. You won’t have to go barefoot. The signal is strong enough to carry through your shoes.). It’s automatic, making it easier than an RFID chip, but still has to be in very close contact with the door, making it safer than the remote key-less entry system you might have on your car.

NTT is working on a 10-megabyte version of Firmo, which will open up many other doors (pun intended) for the system. The faster transmission speed could allow you to use the system to link your personal electronic devices through your person: wireless headphones connected to iPod through your neck and down your arm, laptop downloading from your cellphone along your fingertips.

New Technology: Great tech, but don’t touch the stock just yet

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone is exactly what it sounds like, a fixed-line telephone company that, like most these days, has branched out into other fields, including a strong cellphone division, to protect profit margins as people cancel their landlines.

It’s a good company overall. And the stock has trended upward, however slowly, since it took a major nosedive in the first two years of this century (It fell 84% from 2000-2002. Ouch!) . But I wouldn’t look at NTT as a viable investment opportunity until the company makes some head way on the 10 megabyte version of its new technology. As of right now, Firmo is little more than a novelty item. But it’s future does look bright, and glowing…

The Japanese company released a fantastic print ad for Firmo — nothing sells electronics like a thinking doorknob and an employee with a bright orange aura. I have a feeling it would be even better if only I could read Japanese.

Disclosure: none