This hi-tech wallet is the perfect companion to your smartphone

By Yon Heong Tung for e27

The next few years of innovation will be all about making ordinary devices or tools “smart”. And physical wallets are no exception.

A South Korean startup WonderWallet (not to be mistaken with this Wonder Wallet) has developed a smart wallet that is not only slim but also serves a handy companion to the smartphone. Think about how Apple Watch augments the iPhone’s capabilities – the relationship is quite similar, only, much simpler.

Measuring 60 mm by 104 mm and 12.5 mm thick, WonderWallet comes embedded with an e-paper ink display (similar to the Amazon Kindle). So instead of the dull faceless covers of typical wallets, users can upload up to 10 images – all stored within WonderWallet’s internal memory – to adorn the surface.

But using e-ink means the display has some limitations. For one, it can only output black and white, and two, the resolution is only 600px and 360px. Still, a low-resolution picture of a fluffy cat is easier on the eyes than the featureless jet black surface of most wallets.

The e-ink feature is not just about aesthetics, there is a practical side to it. Its smart features come alive when linked up to the WonderWallet app via Bluetooth. Through this connection, it gathers data about the user’s locations, then brings up images relevant to the user (images have to be first uploaded to the app, though).

For example, users approaching a train station can automatically retrieve an image of the transit map and train timings.

Or if a user is in a Starbucks joint, the smart wallet will immediately bring up an image of the relevant rewards card. If you thought going cardless by using an app was convenient, having WonderWallet makes it even more seamless.

Synchronisation with the smartphone also allows it to display schedules and appointments based on the current date and time.

But perhaps the most significant feature of WonderWallet, especially for absentminded folks, is its ability to notify its owners when they are separated. It sends push notifications to the user’s smartphone, and displays a help message containing contact information to the kind samaritan who picks it up.

Slide out your cards like a boss

The WonderWallet is built out of poly-carbonate and die-cast aluminium, a casing secure and durable enough to safely store credit cards or name cards.  What is more interesting are its sliding mechanisms and quick draw feature, which makes retrieving cards as easy as pulling a playing card out of a deck.

For users who need to carry cash, there is also an optional money clip-on that can be attached to the WonderWallet to hold bank notes.

But there are limitations to the new-fangled wallet. For one, it is really thin, so there are not many cards and notes that can be stored inside (hence, the importance of pairing it with a smartphone). Obviously, there are no coin pockets too. And finally, sitting down with WonderWallet stuck inside the back pocket of your pants is most definitely going to break it.

Still, despite these shortcomings, this smart features of this wallet make it a more attractive investment over conventional wallets (unless of course, minimalism and fashion sense is more of your thing).

Currently, WonderWallet is going for US$55 on its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. It has funding goal of US$30,000 and has currently raised US$9,092, with about a month left on the calendar.

First appeared at e27