Technologies that will change the world . . . or not.
- Who are you? Identity theft is a serious problem for consumers and businesses alike. ID cards can be forged, passwords hacked and credit cards stolen. But the one thing that is uniquely yours is . . . you. Your fingerprint, voice, even your facial features will serve as a secure, virtually foolproof way of verifying your identity. In use for many years for high-level security in government agencies, biometric security devices will eventually become commonplace--whether you like it or not. (For more information on biometric security, see "Tech Smarts," April 1999.)
- The cashless society: Retailers may love money, but they hate cash, which is difficult to store and transport in large amounts--and has a tendency to disappear. The growing acceptance of alternative payment technologies such as check cards, online banking, PC-based smart-card readers and electronic toll tags on your car may one day spell the demise of cash and coins as legal tender in the marketplace. An unexpected benefit: Studies have shown that customers tend to spend more on purchases when they use a credit or debit card.
- Have it your way: With so many e-commerce sites offering similar goods and services, comparing prices for a computer or an airline ticket may take hours of surfing. Virtual agents, or "shop 'bots" are software programs that can scour the Net on your behalf for the best deal and come back with the results, including price and shipping time, within minutes. Agents will also be able to alert you when a stock price changes or book restaurant and hotel reservations--as long as those places have a Web presence.
Encanto Networks, (888) ENCANTO, http://www.encanto.com