Knowledge about Smart card and Smart card Reader

By | May 5, 2011

1. What’s Smart card

A smart card is any pocket-sized card with embedded integrated circuits. It may also provide strong security authentication for single sign-on (SSO) within large organizations.

Smart cards can provide identification, authentication, data storage and application processing.The benefits of smart cards are directly related to the volume of information and applications that are programmed for use on a card. The benefits of smart cards are directly related to the volume of information and applications that are programmed for use on a card. A single contact/contactless smart card can be programmed with multiple banking credentials, medical entitlement, driver’s license/public transport entitlement, loyalty programs and club memberships to name just a few. Multi-factor and proximity authentication can and has been embedded into smart cards to increase the security of all services on the card. For example, a smart card can be programed to only allow a contactless transaction if it is also within range of another device like a uniquely paired mobile phone. This can significantly increase the security of the smart card.

There are two types of smart cards: contact and contactless. Both have an embedded microprocessor and memory. The smart card differs from the card typically called a proximity card in that the microchip in the proximity card has only one function: to provide the reader with the card’s identification number. The processor on the smart card has an embedded operating system and can handle multiple applications such as a cash card, a pre-paid membership card, and even an access control card.

The difference between the two types of smart cards is found in the manner with which the microprocessor on the card communicates with the outside world. A contact smart card has eight contacts, which must physically touch contacts on the reader to convey information between them. Since contact cards must be inserted into readers carefully and the orientation has be observed the speed and convenience of such transaction is not acceptable for most access control applications. The use of contact smart cards is physical access control is limited mostly to parking applications when payment data is stored in card memory and when the speed of transactions is not important.

A contactless smart card uses the same radio-based technology as the proximity card with the exception of the frequency band used: higher frequency (13.56 MHz instead of 125 kHz) allows to transferring more data and communicating with several cards at the same time. A contactless card does not have to touch the reader or even be taken out from a wallet or purse. Most access control systems only read serial numbers of contactless smart cards and do not utilize the available memory.

Now smart card is widely used to protect digital television stream. Digital television operators use smart TV card to stored TV user’s identity and authorization information. So only with the smartcard, you can obtain authorization to watch TV programs.

2. Smart card reader

Smart card reader is an electronic device that reads smart cards. Some keyboards have a built-in card reader. There are external devices and internal drive bay card reader devices for PC. Some laptops have built-in smart card reader.

Some have a flash upgradeable firmware. The card reader supplies the integrated circuit on the smart card with electricity. Communication is done via protocols and you can read and write to a fixed address on the card.

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3. Smart TV card reader

The Smargo Smartcard Reader Plus is a Smart TV card reader, it can read customer’s identity and authorization information and helps you to watch TV. It’s a USB smartcard reader / programmer based on a powerful ARM core processor. The Smargo SmartReader Plus incorporates an integrated USB to Serial converter, which enables the Smargo SmartReader Plus to work with all standard Phoenix compatible Linux® and Microsoft Windows® TV card reader


  • Powerfull ARM 91 Thumb Processor
  • High-performance 32-bit RISC Architecture
  • High-density 16-bit Instruction Set
  • 64 Kbytes, organized in 512 Pages of 128 Bytes (Single Plane)
  • 16 Kbytes Internal High-speed SRAM, Single-cycle Access at Maximum Speed
  • Low-power RC Oscillator, 3 to 20 MHz On-chip Oscillator and one PLL
  • Supports 3.20, 3.43, 3.69, 4.00, 4.36, 4.80, 5.34, 6.00, 6.86, 8.00, 9.61, 12.0 and 16.0 MHz for smartcards

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