Overview of Proximity Cards

Proximity cards are another example of the direction ID card technology has gone. Proximity cards (Prox cards), like contactless smart cards, communicate through an embedded antenna to a remote receiver. Unlike smart cards, proximity cards are read-only devices. This means that while they store information, you cannot rewrite the information stored on the card.

Thus, once the information is there, it’s permanent. It’s not possible to write information back on to the card’s chip. Another main difference between Proximity cards and Contactless Smart Cards is the fact that Proximity cards have a greater range of operation than Contactless smart cards.

Whereas the Contactless Smart cards only operate from a few inches away from the reader, Proximity cards range from allowable distances starting from around three inches all the way up to twenty inches. Their range depends on the reader, but is generally between the two extremes.

The amount of information proximity cards store is relatively small; an example might be identification codes verified by remote computers to allow access.

One of the greatest benefits of this card is its inherent security. Forging a card like the Proximity card is very difficult and it greatly minimizes security risks. Because of their ability to store information permanently and the fact that they can’t be re-written, forging them would be highly challenging.

The information they contain is permanent, and the only way to change it is to delete it. This renders the card useless, and thus makes it an ideal choice for high security institutions like government buildings, hospitals, banks, and many other companies that have a deep need for security of the highest measure.

The technology behind the card is Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID. RFID is a broad term that encompasses the span of technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify people or objects and work with a microchip to store information.

The most common way of storing information is to store a serial number that identifies a person, object, or information on a microchip. The microchip is attached to an antenna and imbedded between the layers of the card. Information can be written and erased, stored on the microchip, and transmitted by the antenna.

The chip and antenna combination is called an RFID transponder or an RFID tag. The antenna enables the chip to transmit the identification information to a reader. Radio waves reflected from the card (RFID tag) to the reader allow the reader to convert the radio waves reflected back from the RFID tag into digital information that is then processed by the computer.

Instead of inserting your card into a card acceptor or scanning it through, all you have to do is pass within range of the radio frequency acceptor and you are done. With Proximity Cards you usually have to be within a few inches of the machine for it to operate, but it still saves a ton of time and headache.

The greatest benefit of this card is its inherent security. Forging a card like RFID is very difficult and it greatly minimizes security risks. RFID cards can be used by anyone, and are most effective in every environment from the very large to the very small. Because you can’t rewrite them, proximity cards are especially ideal for high security environments.

Proximity cards are especially useful for hands free access, especially door access where a fast, hands free method of entrance is desired. They offer the identification, security and efficiency many information sensitive facilities require to maintain a safe environment.

Any company that works with sensitive information, large amounts of money, or has high security needs benefits from Proximity Cards. Banks, military bases, insurance companies, schools, small businesses and more will benefit greatly from quick, secure and user friendly Proximity cards.

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