Look Mom! No hands!
The idea is to be able to perform enterprise security functions, such as physical and logical access control, without having to touch the badge, or to take it away from its location. Gemalto gives as an example the case of a surgeon in need of accessing patient data files, and who cannot take his badge out as he is in a sterile environment. Gemalto also considers other applications such as helping office workers like traders to be authenticated with their workstation without having to bother finding the badge and putting in the reader, or people in the armed forces who need to concentrate on action, but have to use devices requiring authentication.
At the same time, a start up called Natural Security demonstrates a related concept in a total different environment. The idea Natural Security is developing is to use a wireless card holder to perform payment functions. The bank card user can leave his card in his pocket, and as the card holder communicates in wireless mode (Bluetooth or other) with the reader, authentication functions are performed without having to bring the card even close to the reader. This way the cardholder can keep his card in his pocket, and perform payment transactions. Associated with a biometric authentication, this allows shoppers to pay with just their finger (given they have their card in their pocket).
So after the contactless card, shall we get the wireless card, the remote card, the no-hands card …. ?