RFID Access Control


Until recently access control systems have not been compatible with other systems. In each access control system, tags and cards have to be bought for this sole purpose.

What if we could use our personal bank or travel card in accessing our secure work place? Imagine the card being valid for all the purposes; access control, shopping, travelling, different kinds of payments etc. 13,56 MHz technologies brings this dream to reality.

The most common 13,56 MHz (medium frequency) technologies are Mifare and I-Code. Inside Picotag also represent this technology. Mifare interface technology is the accepted industry standard for contactless smart card technology. Today there are approx. 200 million Mifare cards and tags in daily life use, mainly in payment and ticketing solutions making Mifare the market leader in 13,56 MHz technology. The forthcoming Mifare Dual Interface (DIF) card will multiply the volume of Mifare cards.

This card technology offers a single portable device for transport, banking, purchases, administration and e-commerce accommodating both contact and contactless smart card interfaces. People with a DIF card can securely access banking, health care and social services, obtain certification, prove their identity and settle other business. Projects with I-Code are primarily in supply chain management and rental applications, however also being used in access control, asset or people tracking as well as with parcel services and in production control. I-Code technology is especially known for low cost label tags.

Cost savings

Visa is already migrating its enormous user base from magnetic stripe cards to Mifare DIF smart cards. Many other international banks are planning on the same migration. Big cities like Beijing, Taipei and Pusan have already applied this technology for their multiple needs having millions of users in each application. Several bigger cities around the world are more than likely to follow this example.

Due to all the above-mentioned facts, almost all of us will have a Mifare city or a bank card in our purse in the near future. It is hard to forecast the date when this will be reality for each of us. It is only a matter of time. Utilisation of the existing and future cards will bring enormous cost savings in building access control systems. The most important reason for applying magnetic stripe technology instead of RFID in access control has been the price. 13,56 MHz technologies are about to ruin this only argument.

Several suppliers brings independence

Until we have the Mifare card for other than access control purposes, several tens of Mifare and I-Code manufacturers and suppliers around the world will ensure that cards are available today at comparable prices and with speedy deliveries. Since no one else other than the reader manufacturer has been supplying tags and cards compatible with the readers, system integrators and end users have been dependable on the reader manufacturer for the card and tag deliveries. When applying standard 13,56 MHz technologies, this is no longer the case.

“Securitas Tekniikka Oy, the leading security company in Finland and a daughter company of Securitas, has applied Idescos Microlog technology in access control since 1992. Securitas is one of the pioneers in combining RFID and access control. We have decided to migrate to multi-technology readers based on 13,56 MHz technologies. This is due to the several advantages compared to low frequency technologies”, says Hannu Uuspelto, Business Unit Manager from Securitas Tekniikka Oy.

Disposable access permit

Latest market demands on cheaper tags has enabled Mifare and I-Code to manufacture products applicable in high volume solutions. Mifares UltraLight paper tag, which is ISO compliant, is alongside other applications perfectly suitable for access control. I-Code label tags are at the moment one of the least expensive tags on the market. These two tags make it possible to initiate short-term disposable access permits for visitors, project workers etc.

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