Touchcard Technology Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS TOUCH CARD(TM) TECHNOLOGY?
Secura Key manufactures the unique patented slotless TOUCH CARD™ technology reader. The reader technology provides extraordinary protection against weather and vandalism. Since there is no open card slot internal electronics are not vulnerable to dust and moisture. Vandals cannot "jam" the reader with foreign objects. Simply place the card on the stainless steel plate, and the card is read instantly and accurately. No swiping, sliding, pushing or pulling cards. We feel that the TOUCH CARD™ Technology is superior to other technologies such as magnetic stripe (which wears out) or bar code (easy to copy). Since there is virtually no wear, the cards last almost indefinitely. The original readers used for Barium Ferrite cards were both magnetic and mechanical and had many moving parts. Problems developed as the readers got older and began to wear out. They needed frequent calibration and maintenance. The internal parts would often stick. Cold or wet weather conditions, corrosion, and dirt prevented proper mechanical operation of the reader.
Secura Key decided to solve these problems and develop a new reader technology to bring out the best in Barium Ferrite. In 1986, Secura Key patented TOUCH CARD™ plate, behind which are installed an array of TOUCH CARD™ technology. This new type of reader has a TOUCH electronic sensing devices, which can read the magnetic patterns in Barium Ferrite cards. These readers are entirely solid-state, microprocessor-controlled, and self-calibrating, which eliminates the constant maintenance headache of the early electromechanical readers. Since there is no card slot, dirt, dust, and moisture are no longer a problem.
TOUCH CARD(TM) VS. OTHER CARD TYPES
System owners and dealers swear by TOUCH CARD™ technology once they discover its reliability and ease of use. There may not be a "best" card technology for everyone. The selection of card technology should be based on the requirements of the individual customer, and on factors such as cost, reliability, ease of use, and environment. TOUCH CARD™ technology is a superior card technology for new systems, which should be considered on an equal basis with other card technologies. The following paragraphs compare TOUCH CARD™ technology with other card technologies.
TOUCH CARD(TM) VS. Magnetic Stripe
The key advantages of Magnetic Stripe are low-cost cards and readers, and ease of encoding. The Magnetic Stripe is located on the card surface, and the read head must be exposed to guarantee direct contact with the stripe. Therefore, cards and read heads are subject to wear through normal use. Wear is accelerated by dirt or grit if the readers are installed outdoors. The encoded data on Magnetic Stripe cards is also subject to accidental erasure. Magnetic Stripe readers are available in insert versions, which are prone to vandalism by jamming the slot with foreign objects, and swipe versions, where the slot tends to ice up in colder regions. Magnetic Stripe cards are easily duplicated, which results in reduced security. Advanced Magnetic Stripe cards are more secure and difficult to duplicate, but the readers and cards are proprietary, eliminating the low-cost advantage of magnetic stripe, without overcoming the basic drawbacks of the technology.
With TOUCH CARD™ technology there is no wear to the card or reader during normal use. The magnetic material is laminated inside the card, fully protected from physical damage, and is almost impossible to accidentally demagnetize. The TOUCH CARD™ reader has no slot, uses rust-proof stainless steel for the TOUCH CARD™ reader plate. TOUCH CARD™ has industrial-grade components for a wide temperature range. Conformal coated circuit boards to resist corrosion and a neoprene mounting gasket to keep water out of the housing. Cards are encrypted, and the card encoders are not commercially available, making the cards very difficult to copy.
TOUCH CARD(TM) VS. WIEGAND
The key advantages of Wiegand technology are its weather-resistance and card durability. Wiegand readers are waterproof, sealed units, and the Wiegand code module is also fully protected by being laminated inside the card. Wiegand readers, however, share the disadvantages of all slotted readers, being susceptible to vandalism and ice forming in the card slot -- this is why you will see many Wiegand readers installed upside-down. Wiegand cards are difficult to manufacture, and the special Wiegand wire is available from two or three sources in the world, making Wiegand relatively expensive as compared to other card technologies. Because the Wiegand module must be pre-assembled with the correct encoding prior to card lamination, all Wiegand cards must be made to order, resulting in longer delivery times. Wiegand cards must be swiped through the reader with some precision to be read correctly.
TOUCH CARD™ technology readers are slotless, and the cards are inexpensive and easy to manufacture. Barium Ferrite is not an exotic material; it is similar to the material used for magnetic signs (as well as the appliques found on millions of refrigerators). Barium Ferrite cards can be fully assembled prior to encoding and hot-stamping, allowing for rapid turnaround times. TOUCH CARD™ technology is easy to use because the card is stationery when read. There is no problem with swiping too slowly or quickly. Beveled edges on the reader faceplate guide the card onto the TOUCH CARD™ plate. This self-locating feature makes TOUCH CARD™ ideal for handicap applications.
TOUCH CARD(TM) VS. BAR CODE
The key advantages of Bar Code are cost, and ease of encoding. Basic Bar Code cards can be easily copied on a photocopy machine. In most Access Control applications, infrared blockers are laminated over the bar code for protection. Because Bar Code readers read the cards photo-optically, they must be cleaned frequently; otherwise, dirt, lint or foreign matter can collect in the reader and prevent the card from being read. Additionally, the presence of any black mark (grease, dirt, felt pen, etc.) on the barcode will render the card unreadable. Swipe-type Bar Code readers require some skill to use; the card will misread if it is not swiped in a straight trajectory. Insert-type Bar Code readers reduce misreads but are subject to the typical drawbacks of insert readers. TOUCH CARD™ technology requires specialized process equipment and knowledge to duplicate. Dirt falls off of the TOUCH CARD™ Plate; no regular maintenance is required. While customers cannot encode and laminate their own cards, Secura Key offers an economical card, with fast turnaround time, and much better security.
ENCRYPTION MAKES CARD DUPLICATION DIFFICULT
Ease of duplication is often cited as a reason not to buy a particular technology; most frequently mentioned regarding Mag Stripe and Bar Code. Here we should correct a common fallacy in the Access Control industry. The ability to copy a card will not guarantee access to a secured facility, because lost or stolen cards are quickly voided by the conscientious security manager. The intruder must try to make another card with a valid number for the same facility. Most card technologies, including modern Barium Ferrite, are (or can be) encrypted, making it virtually impossible to create another valid card.
Barium Ferrite card technology, with the Secura Key TOUCH CARD™ readers and access control systems, remains viable and competitive. TOUCH CARD™ can also be used in dual-technology environments; Magnetic Stripe and Bar Code can easily be applied to the back of a Barium Ferrite card for non-security applications such as debit card systems, college libraries, time and attendance, etc. Selection of Barium Ferrite cards and TOUCH CARD™ technology for a new access control system is still a wise decision, particularly if perimeter readers are exposed to harsh weather or hostile environments.