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New Assa Abloy Smart Card Unit

Access ID subsidiary will focus on selling customized contactless RFID cards to universities and corporations.
Jun 20, 2002June 20, 2002 -- Assa Abloy AB, the world's largest lock maker, has created a new subsidiary called Access ID. The new company, based in Seattle, Wash., will sell custom smart cards, particularly those using contactless RFID technology, to universities and corporations.

Assa Abloy, a Swedish industrial group that makes a wide variety of locks and security products, already owns three companies that make smart cards and proximity cards for access control: HID Corp., Indala and the Card Manufacturing Center of Excellence.

In January, those companies were reorganized into Assa Abloy's Identification Technology Group (ITG). Access ID was created to address a new market.

"We want to increase the variety of products we can provide to the market," says Dennis Caulley, who was hired from Caulastics, which specializes in new manufacturing processes, to be VP of Card Services for Access ID. "I'll use my knowledge of card manufacturing to widen the offerings."

Access ID will buy some cards from its sister company, the Card Manufacturing Center of Excellence in North Haven, Conn. Caulley says he will also work with the center to develop new types of cards. But Access ID will also buy from other vendors and even compete at times with other companies in the group.

Unlike HID Corp., Access ID will not sell readers or software. Instead the company will focus on packaging new and existing technologies into custom products for clients. Access ID will offer cards with graphics done using high-resolution four-color lithography and other techniques.

It will also offer anti-counterfeiting features, such as invisible ink, optical variable ink and digital watermarks. These techniques have typically been used for government ID cards and driver\'s licenses, but there hasn\'t been much need for them in the corporate and university market.

That has changed since Sept. 11. Corporations are more concerned about employees who have access to hazardous materials or server rooms. Many are adding biometrics to access control cards, a feature Access ID plans to offer.

"If companies or schools are providing access to a telecommunications or computer center, they want to be sure the person who has access is really who he says he is," says Caulley. "These technologies can help to verify a person's identity."

Caulley says the company is focusing on contactless smart cards that use RFID to communicate with a reader because that is clear trend in smart cards.

"We think it's where all the technologies will come together," he says. "Transit applications are moving to contactless because you can process people and cards more quickly. As you look at the future of smart cards, the world is moving toward contactless."
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