The idea of integrating identification badges into smartphones is so tempting that many commentators wonder why this has not happened yet in a large scale. ID badges seem to make a perfect blend with modern smartphones but for some reason we haven’t seen the breakthrough yet. Why don’t we briefly examine the reasons that would possibly slow down the adaptation process.
Lack of protocol to support readers. Most people think that Near Frequency Communication, NFC for short is transmission protocol while it’s rather set of standards that incorporated communication protocols follow when using distances under 0.2 meters. NFC operates at 13.56 MHz which is the same frequency as ISO/IEC 14443 standard which dominates proximity tags market. Since you don’t have to adjust transmitter or readers to another frequency integration of RFID standard proximity cards and NFC capable smartphones is within the reach of software development effort.
Is it as with NFC payment where major players try to obstruct the new standard adoption rate which would hurt their own market share in payment processing? That is quite possible, proximity cards manufacturing business has some money to lose should companies switch to NFC phones. Printable RFID cards can’t be reprinted which means when there is a new employee at the company the ID badge of someone who left can’t be reused and new one needs to be issued. No such issue with a smartphone so cost saving potential for companies is here at the cost of tag manufacturers loss of business though.
Security is another thing that matters is this case. Prox cards come hardcoded for the most part and then provisioned within the system so spoofing or forging a RFID tag is difficult but not impossible. With smartphones without some bullet proof security mechanism spoofing could get to trivial level yet RSA virtual tags have managed to establish secure environment.
I’ve recently read that a company called Allegion, from Dublin, North Ireland, has announced that it has become a member of the Samsung Solutions Exchange and will be developing security access solution for the Korean giant made phones. While I consider this as a step in the right direction I think we won’t see a breakthrough here unless a giant from security access segment such as HID spearheads the project.The sequence of events could be as well that some garage startup project develops a standard that is so interesting for the industry that it would stick.