The iCache's name is no accident. According to the makers, the 'i' denotes the personalization of the product -- only one unique person can use the device. The "cache" part of the title is a pun on both "cash" -- a unit of money -- and "cache" -- a collection of data stored elsewhere. But what exactly are the mechanics of the iCache? Let's take a look at how this gadget works.
Once you've got your iCache, you plug it into your computer using a USB cable. You enter your card numbers and expiration dates, which are then loaded directly onto the iCache gadget. You can enter information for almost any type of card -- gift cards, gas cards, loyalty cards for stores like supermarkets -- onto your iCache. You activate the card by placing your fingerprint on its biometric strip. You then dial through a list of cards on the LCD screen and choose the card you want to use.
So, let's say you want to use your Visa card to make a purchase. Just click Visa on the iCache screen and that information will be loaded onto a separate card -- a plastic card with a magnetic strip that then pops out of the device. The strip is temporarily loaded with data from the card you chose. You swipe the card just like you swipe any other debit or credit card and then slide it back into the iCache. The information is stored on that card for about 10 more minutes, and then the data is erased.
In addition to magnetic card strips, you also can upload barcodes to the iCache. So, if you go online and spot a coupon for one of your favorite stores, you can download the coupon onto your PC and upload it to your iCache. Once you're in the store, you can call it up on the iCache display, and the clerk can wave it over the barcode scanner.
One of the biggest selling points of the iCache is its security. The iCache is a good travel gadget for those worried their cards will be stolen on the road. What makes this card so secure? A combination of data encryption and fingerprint-activation security. The data on the iCache is encrypted through internal microchips. All information is directly loaded to the device via the USB cable -- no information is stored on your computer -- where it remains encrypted. This basically means that even though your data is backed up by the iCache server, it's broken up into parts that can only be put back together by your iCache gadget. Your data isn't sent anywhere unless you use your fingerprint for confirmation. And because the iCache uses biometric technology to read your fingerprint, you can be sure that no other person can use your card.
The iCache will only accept new cards when it's connected to your personal computer. All data loaded into the device must match the information that you provide during the gadget's initial set-up. If someone were to steal a credit card and attempt to load it into the iCache, the false card data wouldn't be recognized.
Additionally, if someone tries to tamper with the card, it can't be used; if the device is opened or the internal parts of it are tampered with, the device will be rendered useless. It will only work if it positively identifies your fingerprint. As far as security goes, the standards of the iCache far surpass those of conventional credit cards [source: XConomy: Boston].
Now that you know about the mechanics of the iCache, let's learn how to use this travel gadget.