Forget scanning: Smart Stamps validate tickets and loyalty cards by the physical act of stamping.
If you’re like us, it’s been ages since the last time you printed out a concert ticket and had to have it stamped. But in some regions (and theme parks) of the world, the ink-drenched rubber stamping contraptions serve as the only means of validation. If the folks at Echoss have their way, though, you might start seeing a lot more around — but not how you might remember them.
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Japan-based Echoss showed the Echoss Smart Stamp, a stamp that’s compatible with smartphones. Just like an off-the-shelf stamp at your local Staples, it doesn’t pack a battery, processors, or any electronics that require power, works offline, and springs back slightly when pressed against a surface.
But unlike conventional stamps, the Smart Stamp validates tickets and coupons with “capacitive point technology.” Each unit packs a pattern of stylus-like points concealed beneath a conductive sheet, and when the stylus-like points make contact with a touchscreen and Smart Stamp-compatible app, the phone registers with Echos’ certification center. After a second or so, the ticket holder is good to go.
We asked Echoss about the potential for fraud — it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that a determined hacker could disassemble a Smart Stamp and produce copies of the geometric pattern. But a company rep told Digital Trends that once a virtual ticket has been stamped, Echoss records the location and time, and each stamp’s pattern actuates at very specific angles on the smartphone screen. Simply put, if someone were to take one apart, they wouldn’t necessarily be able to produce a duplicate.
The standard Smart Stamp comes in blue and white, but a customized version, the Paper Stamp, lets brands create designs of their own. Echoss envision performers distributing collectible stamps for buzzy promotions, and sweepstakes holders awarding Paper Stamps as prizes. “[They] can create a unique fandom culture,” Echoss said.
That’s less of a stretch than you might think. Smart Stamps are apparently quite popular overseas — Echoss’s partners include Samsung, NEC, Huawei, and WeChat. One of the most popular apps, Echossbook, lets users collect stamps in exchange for a coupon. Another, Cevly, rewards hair studio customers for rebooking stylists.
And it might not be long before they make their way to the U.S. — Echoss plans to announce new partners in the coming weeks.
So don’t freak out if the barista at your next coffee stop stamps — not scans — your digital loyalty card.