One of the most important obstacles to mainstream Bitcoin adoption is the virtual currency’s perceived volatility. For any number of reasons, from hacking to varying changes in demand, Bitcoin has the nasty habit of fluctuating wildly over short periods of time.
Along with general mistrust, such frequent price changes mean that it’s hard to translate Bitcoin into a real-world setting. And though many online storefronts have begun to accept Bitcoin, few physical ones have.
Designer/hacker Samuel Cox’s answer to the problem is a reimagination of the price tag: a BitTag. Since an old-fashioned analog (read: paper) price tag would require a lot of red pens to keep store pricing up to date, the technology artist is offering up an electronic version, which updates regularly according to the current price of Bitcoin.
At its core, BitTag is a small box with a display screen that shows the pricing of an object in local currency and its Bitcoin equivalent. The latter is drawn from a nearby tablet, connected via Bluetooth, and updates the BitTag as fluctuations in the currency’s price occur.
Give the tag a shake, and a QR code will appear on the display, which you can scan with your smartphone in order to purchase the product with your Bitcoin.
Of course, BitTag has a few issues of its own, which, like Bitcoin, will likely keep the technology from reaching any kind of mainstream acceptance. Namely, the tags, which are currently in prototype, will set shopkeepers back £40 (about $65) a pop; Cox told us that once BitTag exits prototype, it will cost considerably less. Plus you need a tablet with a WiFi connection to run all those BitTags. Oh, and enough customers who want to shop with Bitcoin to make it all worth it.
Anyway, BitTag isn’t alone in working to bring Bitcoin off the computer screen and into the real world. Overstock.com and Virgin Galactic will let you use Bitcoin to purchase actual goods and experiences. And a recent influx of Bitcoin ATMs let users exchange local currency for the digital variety.
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