Jack is an International Sales Manager in San Francisco with NetCookies, Inc., a fast-growing franchiser of American pastry shops.
Today, Jack is planning to spend the night on a red-eye to Japan for a sales presentation in Tokyo. Jack will be using his StretchCard smart card as the ticket for this flight. StretchCard is the first of a new generation of general purpose smart cards which you can personalize yourself with any combination of services offered by the member companies of the StretchCard consortium. When Jack received the card, it already was loaded with his electronic airline ticket for the Tokyo trip.
Jack wanted to confirm his trip, so he inserted his StretchCard into his WebToaster. Jack and his wife Mary bought the WebToaster from their local cable operator, Time Warmer. The WebToaster is a small box that sits on top of the TV set and has a slot for smart cards right on the front panel. As soon as Jack inserted his card in the WebToaster, A "Welcome to Tickets By Web" screen popped up immediately on the TV screen. Jack skipped the few introductory screens that offered an incredible wealth of services, and worked his way directly to the airline ticket review menu where he was relieved to see the details of his flights . His ticket was there, complete with seat assignments.
In addition, there were train tickets on the Narita Express from the airport to the central Tokyo station. Since the Narita Express only took passengers with reserved seats, Jack was grateful to avoid the rush to get a seat on the next train once he arrived at the airport. While he was browsing, Jack looked at the options menu that listed the add-on services from the StretchCard consortium. There was a long list of services, such as:
Next to the list, were two buttons. One was labeled "SET your Credit Card Now !" and the other " Yahee!, the search engine with saving coupons".
Jack made a mental note to check this Yahee! thing later, after his return from Japan, and pressed the SET button. He remembered someone at the office saying that the company would no longer authorize employees to use corporate credit cards for paying stuff over the Internet, because of some recent fraud problems unless you protected the transaction using the SET protocol that Visa and MasterCard had been offering for a couple of years now.
Jack couldnt remember what SET meant, but the MasterCard and Visa logos were reassuring. With the possibility that he may have to stay one or two extra days in Japan to conclude the negotiation, Jack thought it would be a good idea if he could pay for any extra charge on his return ticket with his corporate credit card rather than using his personal credit card.
The SET menu had a flashing banner confirming that a SET-capable smart card had been identified by the browser program; it also explained that SET would not create yet another credit card for you, but wrap your existing card(s) into a bullet-proof shield.
As Jack was about to input his corporate credit card number and choose a PIN code for it, a message came up on the screen indicating that the WebToaster had disconnected temporarily from the network to ensure his privacy. This was because WebToasters were built to guarantee that no one could spy upon users when they were inputting sensitive data to the smart card locally.
When he was done, he was congratulated by a "Welcome to the world of Secure Electronic Transactions !" screen. A helpful tip popped up letting Jack know he could use the same PIN code for other services in the StretchCard. Not bad, thought Jack, not only can this card save space in my wallet, its making my life a little bit easier in other ways too!
Returning to the list of services, Jack decided that the privileged parking was a great idea. As long as he could remember, the San Francisco airport had always been undergoing some sort of re-construction and parking was always a nightmare. Apparently, this service allows him to access a reserved parking space as long as he also has a valid electronic ticket for travel the same day in his StretchCard.
Among the frequent flyer programs, was Instant Upgrades of Pacific Rim Airlines, the carrier he was going to fly to Japan. Well, if it was going to give him a choice of upgrades at the gate, this would be far better than the usual system where you had to claim your bonus miles through the mail and wait for weeks.
Unfortunately, the hotel he would stay at in Tokyo, did not belong to the two chains that were advertising their bonus program with the StretchCard. Too bad because these hotels were displaying walking directions from various Tokyo stations -and Jack knew that the absence of street numbers in Japan could confuse gaijins. Jack would call the travel office to suggest a switch to one of these hotels next time.
Jack noticed that the Printkos subscription would be a big help. As a new user, he could get an initial discount that same day for his presentation slides. A Printkos is also offering remote printing services in over 50 cities worldwide, including Tokyo. Great, this would give him a safety net to produce extra slides over there if some additional persuasion was needed, or if he came up with some brilliant idea during the long flight (he would have to just figure out how to connect to their on-line printing server).
Now, Jack was ready to hit the road with his freshly loaded StretchCard: airline ticket, train ticket, frequent flyer, parking, corporate credit card, and printing services. Hed never had so many useful services in one convenient place before.
A quick connection to Printkos web page made it obvious that he would get a discount with them only if he used his StretchCard for the job. His home PC had no smart card interface slot. Maybe he would have time for a short visit to Akihabara in Tokyo and get himself one of these slot-equipped keyboards. He was not fond of his present home-PC keyboard anyway and was ready for some improvement.
Jack transferred his presentation to his laptop computer which he was going to take with him for the trip. The laptop had a card slot combined with the PCMCIA modem, where Jack inserted the StretchCard. He fired up his browser program and logged on to Printkos. They were using an 80-bit key with 24-bit escrow algorithm to let their subscribers upload their data securely. His job would be ready in 2 hours, said the onscreen message.
Jack said goodbye to his wife Mary and their son teenaged Simon and on his way to the airport, Jack picked up the color transparencies from Printko;s. At the airport, he quickly found the Executive Parking area; the entrance gate opened after he slipped his StretchCard in the slot. The welcome message on the screen of the parking gate reminded him that he had 45 minutes before the departure of his flight at gate 37 and indicated that a special counter was opened for the frequent flyer members with luggage to check.
Jack used the card terminal at the airport to retrieve his ticket from the StretchCard and he inserted it in the slot of the machine at the gate. He was on his way to Tokyo.
Jack's wife, Mary, inserted her smart card into the WebToaster to see the list of kids, in addition to her son Simon, that she would be driving home. Mary wasn't feeling well and needed to cancel her carpool and have Simon picked up by another parent.
The new online service sponsored by the school called " CARd POOL" coordinated the carpool lists. All the students at Simon's school were issued individual smart cards that look like cute drivers licenses with a photograph of the child. Either using the WebToasters at school or any smart card enabled internet terminal at home, parents or even the students themselves use a simple scheduling program to organize car pools.
It saves everyone a lot of time, no phone tag, you just update or change your schedule at your convenience. Jack and Mary loved being able to see their schedule in advance. When it is their turn to drive, they just log in quickly before leaving to be sure of who they have to pick up.
Everyone in the community feels a little safer knowing where their kids are. Although the program is simple and easy to use, the underlying strong cryptography provides fool-proof authentication and non-repudiation. No more arguments about who said or did what or when they did it.
Mary rushed to the doctor's office and was diagnosed with a benign form of food poisoning. It turned out to be fairly innocuous if treated immediately with the right prescription drugs. The new benefits program that Jack has from NetCookies allows combined HMO identification and co-payment from a healthcare smart card. The pharmacy smart card terminal quickly processed Mary's prescription.
Meanwhile, back at home, Simon had taken the opportunity, while he was home alone, to get onto the communitys dating service and see if someone wanted to join him for the Saturday dance.
When Mary returned home she vowed to investigate how Simon made the date with his CARd POOL card, when Mary thought it was only for the car pool. Oh, the joys of teen parenting.
Jack lost an entire day crossing the date line over the Pacific. The Narita Express station was right under the main airport terminal and Jack spotted a small vending machine which was distributing "card tickets". Although the user instructions had obviously been translated only approximately from Japanese, he inserted his StretchCard in the prominent slot and the machine swiftly and silently issued him a paper ticket.
Tokyo was warm and humid, as always at this time of the year, and Jack welcomed the air-conditioning in the impeccable taxi cab that took him from Tokyo Station to his hotel, in time for an early check-in at 9 am. He had an hour and a half to settle before his customers would come to pick him up in the lobby.
International hotel rooms in Japan were always technically challenging, with remote-controlled everything. Jack found a set-top box on the TV that resembled his WebToaster at home. It was decorated with multiple stickers in Japanese obviously advertising some services for the guests. Fortunately, an English leaflet was available on the desk, which explained that the box was available for Pay-TV channels, in-room video games, Internet connections, and for something called " Smartcom". The Smartcom function was simply the combination of the set-top box with the in-room phone to provide what the Japanese seemed to call "display-phone".
Jack decided to browse the StretchCard menu again and see if he could add the discount calling card service he had spotted the other day. He slipped his card into the box. Understandably, all major US long-distance phone companies were competing onscreen with the usual low-rate guarantees. Jack picked the one that was offering air miles on his favorite airlines frequent flyer program, Pacific Rim, and walked through the menu to let him add the service in his StretchCard and input his billing address in California.
It was not as obvious as with the WebToaster back home because this box was using an infra-red remote control covered with tiny keys which looked like a scaled-down version of a keyboard. The calling card company also advertised a "handy-phone" rental service nationwide in Japan thanks to a roaming agreement with JTT. Handy-phone was the name the Japanese gave to their digital mobile phone system - something like GSM in Europe and PCS in the US. Handy-phones were available throughout Japan, for example, at airports and train stations).
Jack was now able to use his StretchCard to call from the hotel phone and he made a mental note to rent a handy-phone from the hotel lobby to keep for the duration of his stay.
The customer meeting went well and was prolonged by the inevitable dinner with his Japanese hosts. A few issues were still unresolved and it was agreed that Jack would come back for a two-hour session in the morning of the day after next. It was late when Jack returned to his hotel, which turned out to be a perfect time to call his boss back in California and report about the meeting. Phone rates were advertised to be the outrageous rate of 250 Yen per minute to the US, so Jack used his new calling card service within his StretchCard to make the phone call.
Most of the morning was consumed at the American Alliance, checking professional directories and investigating legal and administrative issues with counselors there, after which Jack headed for a meeting with potential suppliers of local food products for franchisees.
As the meeting finished early and there was no dinner planned with anyone, Jack took the metro to Akihabara, the consumer electronics paradise of Tokyo, intending to shop for a smart card equipped keyboard. Of course, Jack should have known better; all keyboards there had small katakana characters printed on each key, next to the regular latin alphabet, and although numerous models had a smart card slot on the side, Jack decided that he would be better off buying one in California over the weekend.
The meeting with the customers went very well. Of course, the Japanese way of doing business would still require a few weeks of internal consensus-building before they would get back to him, but Jack was confident he had not left any question unanswered.
His flight was leaving Tokyo in the mid-afternoon and Jack blamed himself for having forgotten to make a reservation on the Narita Express for the trip back to the airport. Taxis to Narita airport were very expensive, but Jack had no choice now. The good thing was that the taxi turned out to have a handy-phone and Jack decided to call Mary before it got to be too late in California, letting her know that he was coming back as scheduled and would be home in the early afternoon tomorrow. He slipped his StretchCard in the phone and was pleased to be greeted by voice prompts in English.
Pacific Rim Airlines had the same smart card machine there at the gate, and boarding was a breeze as the machine simply pulled his ticket out of the StretchCard again. At least he was relaxed, although he was about to spend a night in a plane for the second time in the week.
Of course, the good thing about international date-line crossing was that you can re-live the same day twice, heading back to California. Jack's car was conveniently waiting for him in the Executive Parking lot just next to the terminal, where the parking fee was not exactly cheap.
He inserted his StretchCard at the exit gate where the presence of a SET-protected credit card was detected. He also had the option to pay with a separate credit card of his choice. He paid with the corporate account in the StretchCard as this was going to credit his mileage program with an additional 250 miles. On his way back from the airport, he decided to stop at Good Buy, and get this smart card keyboard.
As luck had it, Good Buy was also carrying the Yahee! card that he had seen advertised the other day. It was displayed at the cashier's register, together with the usual mouse-pads and other accessories that they wanted you to buy impulsively. Jack was hesitant though. Wouldn't it be simpler if he just added the Yahee! services to the StretchCard he already felt comfortable with?
Well, maybe Mary and Simon could use a separate card at home while he was away himself. Also, Yahee! sounded like a non-professional thing which would not really belong to the business travel profile he had given to the StretchCard. So Jack headed back home with both the keyboard and a new card. The exhaustion from the week dawned on him shortly after he reached home, and he was fast asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
In the afternoon, Jack upgraded his home PC with the keyboard he purchased on his way back from the airport. This was really easy now that the Universal Serial Bus standard had been adopted widely. Windows 97 detected the new hardware as he powered up the machine. His Internet browser also indicated that it could now use smart cards for transactions. The Yahee! card was offering discounts or bonus points to visitors of selected Internet sites provided that you had reached those sites through the Yahee! search site.
Jack wondered how it worked; previous instances of Internet servers trying to snatch information about previously visited sites out of consumer's browser programs had been withdrawn hastily from the market as several organized consumer privacy advocacy groups had threatened to file suit. It turned out that the Yahee! card information was located where the Yahee! search site was storing markers, which subsequent sites could then retrieve from the user's card (provided the user had given permission to do so by having unlocked the reading of the card through a PIN code).
Quite neat indeed. It looked like Yahee! was very successful with this scheme, as its own customers were experiencing higher hit-rates on their sites, allowing them to offer discounts on merchandise and other services, which they could pass directly to the consumers. Obviously, Yahee! was also getting higher advertising rates from the merchants too.
The list of merchants offering Yahee! discounts was quite impressive. The Yahee! card seemed to have its own consortium of associated service providers, very much like what Jack had seen with the StretchCard. As Jack intended to create a "den card" that the whole family could use here with the PC and the WebToaster, he decided to spend a bit more time investigating the services further. The card came with three pre-loaded functions:
Then, it had a list of possible add-on services:
Jack initialized the CyberCents service. Luckily enough, he had the 128-bit version of the secure protocol in his browser, so that entering his bank account reference was pretty safe. He decided to transfer $100 in his new CyberCents account. CyberCents came in two flavors: regular and with guaranteed anonymity. It looked like a majority (but not all) of banks and merchants would accept the guaranteed anonymous kind, but they cost a little more than the regular kind.
Jack decided to split his 100 dollars in half of each kind. The WebToaster had a cable-modem while his PC still had an antiquated 28.8 KB modem. The video streaming services at 28.8 were good enough in relatively small windows for news, talk shows, weather forecasts, and hotel presentations. Jack was indeed more interested in these than in the full-screen full motion stuff possible with cable modems, which Simon was more excited about.
Jack got attracted by a free-trial period of the NSABC online news network and signed up for it. Jack thought that he would need to talk to Mary and Simon about the certified USPS e-mail thing. He was not too sure this would interest them; maybe some administrative, school, or community services could be reached with it. This would be worth exploring later. Jack decided to subscribe to Japan Consumer News Digest, which, understandably, was taking CyberCents.
Everyone was making it very easy to spend his money. CyberCents would be ticked off his card in the background as he would be accessing the JCN database with the different levels of privileges defined in his subscription package. Here he was, with the perfect Internet access card: Yahee! coupons, CyberCents electronic coins, a JCN digest subscription, an NSABC news trial subscription, and plenty of space for storing bookmarks.
This is when Mary appeared in the den to remind him that he had probably played enough with his toys for now, especially for a Saturday afternoon after a week when he had not been in at all. She still wanted time to investigat this dating thing that Simon had access to? Anyway, it was time for him to go shopping with her and Simon at the mall down the road.
Although he had promised himself to stay out of the den today, Jack was curious to see if the Yahee! card he had configured on his PC would work on the WebToaster. He sneaked in while Mary was getting prepared for their morning tennis game and slipped the card in the box. Visibly, the Time Warmer authentication took precedence over the rest of the functions in the card. But the rest of the services were there too.
Jack also wanted to figure out what Simon's card allowed him to do besides the car pool program. He called his son to the den, whose first words when he entered the den were to complain about the 9:30 p.m. curfew his parents had imposed on him last night. How could this possibly be compatible with a party on Saturday?
But Simon's mood quickly changed for the better as he proudly walked his father through the other school services he could access with his card. How come his own dad did not know that this was also how he had access to the swimming pool during the weekends, and the craft classes on Wednesday afternoons?
And he could get on the Internet for free for 2 hours per month, but several of his friends had more because they also had this electronic pocket-money which allowed them to pay for the dollar-an-hour fee when they had exceeded the free time. His friends could also use their electronic money for the vending machines, and They did not go further however, as Martha was calling them both from the font door, threatening to come in and confiscate those cards if they did not get off at once for the tennis game.