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New Quantum Gadget Could Make Contactless Payment More Secure

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This prototype device, which sends secret keys to encrypt information passed from a mobile device to a payment terminal, could help answer public concerns around the security of contactless and wireless mobile transactions.

Researchers at the University of Oxford in the U.K., in collaboration with Nokia and Bay Photonics, have developed a prototype gadget that transmits secret quantum keys to encrypt data sent from a mobile device to a payment terminal.

The prototype employs movable mirrors and ultrafast light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to send a secret PIN-code at a rate of more than 30 kilobytes per second across 0.5 meters. The system features six pairs of resonant-cavity LEDs, each filtered to a different polarization and position.

Circularly polarized LEDs supply the main key, while the other pairs are used to quantify the security of the channel and to fix any errors. Code hacking is prevented via a lengthy quantum key used in conjunction with a laser beam-steering system that accounts for hand movements.

Oxford's Iris Choi thinks the gadget could be turned into a practical element for a mobile phone.

From University of Oxford
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