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MEVU’s Wearable Bitcoin Wallet Can Make Payments With a Gesture

(@danielcawrey) | Published on April 22, 2014 at 10:36 BST

MEVU's wearable devices. Source: MEVU

Wearable technology startup MEVU has announced the first wearable bitcoin wallet that tracks movement in order to make payments.

Users of MEVU’s proof-of-concept bracelet – which is powered by Coinbase’s wallet API – will easily be able to send bitcoin with just a flick of the wrist.

Apurv Mishra, CEO and co-founder of MEVU, said that the use case for the company’s wearable wallet is for small transactions such as tipping, whether in BTC, altcoins or perhaps even something else:

“If we use bitcoin or any other currency, if it has the facility for tipping, I think that’s what people would want.”

The idea came from his fascination with community-based payments that are powered through software like Dogetipbot.

He explained:

“[MEVU] could add a layer of payments for smaller value transactions: parking, tipping, and so on.”

The reason Mishra and his team think that microtransactions are the best fit for wearable wallets is that any amount larger than $20 probably requires more confirmation than just a gesture. Two-factor authentication using a mobile phone in conjunction with MEVU’s device could help facilitate larger transactions, however.

The technology

The MEVU wristband is similar in form to the Nymi biometric wallet, but employs an advanced InvenSense motion sensor for its gesture functionality:

The transactions are transmitted to a point-of-sales (POS) device using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which is a common wireless feature on many mobile devices today. Said Mishra:

“In BLE, we know the proximity, and then you use the gesture to authenticate the transaction.”

The decision to go with BLE as a remote method for bitcoin transactions comes from the technology’s prevalence on a number of devices, according to Mishra:

“Most iPads that are point-of-sale devices actually use BLE. So it can be really intuitive without adding any additional infrastructure.”

Apple issues

The problem currently, of course, is that Apple is not friendly to the idea of bitcoin wallets in its iOS ecosystem.

Mishra said that MEVU is developing a version of its software that will be compatible with Android. Many Android devices also use BLE, so the concept will easily port to that platform once the company has it ready within a few months.

Said Mishra:

“With bitcoin, as we know, there are some challenges. We cannot bring this app to the Apple App Store. But I thought that demonstrating this is what we need, this is the direction, would be really interesting.”

Recently, PayPal CEO David Marcus cited BLE and wearables as two of three core ideas that could change retail payments. MEVU’s concept is one realization of the future trends Marcus discusses in that blog post.

The best currency?

It’s easy to question whether bitcoin is the best answer for microtransactions, since there is a good degree of speculative holding occurring.

The reality is, though, that for a startup like MEVU, it’s really easy to hook up a bitcoin concept with Coinbase’s wallet API, as opposed to integrating with other digital currencies, like dogecoin, which don’t have readily accessible wallet APIs quite yet.

Furthermore, there are at least a million people with at least some bitcoin, so there could be market for technology that makes it easier to spend it.

Distribution of bitcoin. Source: State of Bitcoin 2014
Distribution of bitcoin. Source: State of Bitcoin 2014

About MEVU

As a wearable technology company, MEVU has previously focused on ways to capture motion in order to correct behaviors. Perfecting yoga postures and golf swings were applications that the company focused on in the beginning. That makes sense, given the sports appeal that wearable devices have right now.

Said Mishra:

“We made sure that this motion sensing technology was so precise that we could use it for a number of applications.”

The company also said it is opening up its Linux-based ALIVE OS – MEVU’s software platform – for developers to come up with other gesture-based applications.

MEVU was included in Boost VC’s recent Winter Class of startups, which also invested in three bitcoin companies. Mishra said being around those bitcoin startups made the company want to do something that involved cryptocurrency:

“My background is in wearable technology. But being [at Boost], I was like: ‘Hey we have to do something in bitcoin’.”

Pre-orders for the wearable MEVU device will start within a month. The ALIVE OS early access for developers is now available from the company’s website.

Further reading: Can Wearable Tech and Bitcoin Revamp Mobile Payments?

Apruv MishraCoinbaseMEVU

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