Do You Know Your Smart Card Technology?

For almost 15 years, contactless RFID cards and tags have been changing the access control landscape. While the market has grown exponentially over that period, it is only recently that the cards and readers have evolved from simply transmitting numbers...


“What we’re seeing in terms of new product development is that it’s more about combing multiple factors into one integrated system,” said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, Princeton Junction, N.J. “Methods of unlocking a door with a simple red/green light are being replaced with a much more intelligent controller, one that has the ability to have biometrics match to go along with the information that is on the card—adding a second level of security so someone can’t just pick up an access card and get into a building or a secured area. Controller devices are more IP-driven so that they’re not running on thin copper wire but instead running on the network backbone of the organization. These are the kind of advances that we see happening all the time in the electronic security industry.Part of that has been enabled by having more of a capable security badge technology, such as smart cards, that can provide features such as biometric match-on card, security digital images and certificates that can be validated in real-time to verify that that credentials has not been revoked recently.”

ISLOG’s R.F.I.D. Suite– ReadCard™, FindFormat™, IDtransfer™ and DataEncoder™ -- is one solution that is available today. And here’s how a discussion might go with regards to this technology.

What is encoded on this piece of plastic you just handed me?

You need to know all about this card, including what technology it supports; who manufactured it; how much memory it holds (if any); what its serial number is; and how the card is organized.ReadCard is a software tool that can perform all these tasks in seconds. It allows a user to respond quickly and accurately to your customer.

Can I use this card with the existing system?

The next challenge is to recognize, out of binary information, the specific format encoded on a card or tag. Today, as previously mentioned, you have to send the card back to your vendor to determine formats, a task that can be quite time-consuming.

FindFormat is a simple tool that can determine the format encoded on a card or tag in only a few seconds. Everyone in all levels of the supply chain can use and benefit from FindFormat, from field sales to technical support to the business development team, all of whom will be able to quickly answer questions such as whether the card can be used with the current system or whether more cards can be sold.

What can I do with this information?

Now that you can read and find the card’s information, the next logical question is what can be done with it. Today’s cards can be used for so much more than access control.

IDTransfer, has many application possibilities, for integrators/dealers as a universal card enroller for all access control software, or as a tool that enables companies to develop support for RFID without costly development and integration.

Can I encode cards myself?

Today, you buy the cards already encoded. However, demanding customers require that card programming be done independent of the card provider; they don’t want anyone to know their security.

DataEncoder is a solution for encoding data to a 13.56MHz card or tag. Whether it’s MIFARE, DESFire or another 13.56MHz, like iCLASS, DataEncoder is compatible with industry-leading, card-management software, allowing you to organize the structure, determine and set the security keys in the card and readers and write to the card in specific formats.

With the increased acceptance of RFID and the growing market for contactless smart cards, the challenges associated with managing these new technologies can be difficult. Supporting products must be able to meet or exceed certain criteria – flexible solutions that cross different technologies and brands. Software tools take the mystery out of cards and put control back in your hands by providing access to important information, which up until now, was difficult to obtain.

Robert Gailing is the managing director, ISLOG Americas.