NFC, Bluetooth, WiFi, mobile data, plain 'ole voice calls. Your phone has no shortage of ways to connect with things, but that hasn't stopped a group of Finnish scientists finding a way to communicate through your smartphone's built-in compass. Just because they could. While NFC can send data up to 20 centimeters away, these magnetic messages diffuse within a few centimeters -- this limitation could help make wireless payments more secure. Researcher Kostakos Vassilis, talking to New Scientist , said that this magnetic messaging system would mean the phone exchanges nothing until it is within two centimeters (roughly 0.8 inches) of the payment terminal. When the devices get close enough, a secure code could then be delivered through a magnetic field, activating a wireless payment app or NFC connection.
Through the data encoded through a varying magnetic field, the team at the University of Oulu in Finland were able to deliver web addresses (and even an anachronistic MIDI music file) from an electromagnet to the phone. At 40 bits per second, heavy data lifting isn't going to happen here, but the group says it'll outline more uses later this summer. We're hoping it'll involve Wooly Willy.