The Cloud is the wonderful euphemism being paraded about for the practice of storing personal data in remote locations, where it will be backed up and accessible at all hours from any location.  Thanks to The Cloud, a person will no longer have to worry about carrying around or keeping track of their personal data; something out there does that for them.  The Cloud takes advantage of our incredibly connected society and technology, which keeps us all in touch with the world 24-7-365.  It provides us security in an unsecure world.

Big deal!  The promises of The Cloud are so much Star Trek and vaporware.  It’s designed to let someone else hold your data so they can access it, study it (and, by extension, you) and figure out new ways to make money off of you and your data.  I don’t need anything The Cloud has to offer… I can store my own data, back it up and recall it whenever I like, from my laptop or my smartphone!  Hock, patooey on The Cloud!

What I want is a universal key!

keysRight now, I have multiple keys to my house, keys to my and my wife’s car, keys that lock up my bicycle, keys that open suitcases and boxes, etc, etc, etc. Each one is a piece of metal, some of them flimsy as hell, used to trip tumblers in a sealed contraption that is old as time, and in most cases, easy to pick with a few basic tools.  Yeah, that’s secure.

I also have a key fob to get me into my office.  I like the fob.  All I have to do is swipe it near a scanner, and I can enter my building from any entrance, get clearance on the elevator, and get clearance to enter my office floor.  The fob only had to be programmed with my ID, and the building’s system had to be programmed to accept my ID.

So I ask you: Why can’t my house be programmed to accept the same ID?  Why can’t my car accept that ID?  Why can’t every lock I own operate off of that one fob?

key fob systemImagine not having to carry around a heavy set of 8, a dozen, a few dozen keys everywhere you went.  Less weight and bulk in your pocket… you could even wear the fob on a necklace, a bracelet or a belt.  And if it was operated just by proximity, there’d be no more fumbling to get the key out, finding the correct key on a ring of keys, fighting to find the lock in the dark, or rushing to get in out of the rain or cold.

Now that’s progress!

Cars are already equipped to use key fobs.  Houses could easily be set up to accept a fob for entry.  Something like a suitcase or a bicycle lock might be a bit harder, because you’d probably need to equip them with a self-powered mechanism; but that wouldn’t be insurmountable.  At any rate, the keys I use on a daily basis ought to be winnowed down to one device.  One fob that all my locks recognize.  Each lock has to be programmed (by someone who acts as a master controller) to recognize your fob’s ID, and you’re done!

And those fobs don’t all have to look like… well, fobs.  Miniaturized processors and transceivers can easily be fit inside all manner of decorative devices, much like the keyring objects people attach to their keys now.  Someday, that little tchotchke or the tiny plastic dolphin or the miniature replica of a Corvette that used to hold the keys that got you into places… will actually be what gets you into places!

In fact, cellphones are becoming almost universal; put the fob tech in the phone.  It could work even when the phone is off… or you can set it to require some other form of ID is serious security situations.

I’m looking forward to the day when I get up in the morning, get dressed, and grab the one little metal token that will unlock everything I approach and use.  The Cloud?  Meh.  A universal key?  Now that’s useful.