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RFID Secures Printing Process in Public Spaces

ThinPrint's ezeep system allows users in co-working spaces, libraries or schools to launch a printing function from their laptop or other device, then go to any ezeep printer, tap an RFID card against a reader and prompt their personal document to be printed.
By Claire Swedberg

Thus, ThinPrint developed a passive RFID-based authentication solution to ensure that printers only print documents when a user identifies himself or herself at that machine. The system consists of the ezeep cloud-based software to manage printers and printer data. A single piece of hardware is required for the system: a module that sits next to a printer with a built-in Raspberry Pi computer and an Elatec RFID tag reader. Also required is software to manage the collected read data, in addition to an Ethernet connection to the cloud-based software. The system is designed to accept 125 KHz LF RFID tags, though modules for HF 13.56 MHz reads could also be provided.

A library, workspace manager or school could provide ID cards that come with a built-in RFID chip, but the system does not need to initially recognize the RFID number, Volkmer says—even an LF or HF tag in a key fob or health-club membership card could be read. When a user taps his or her card against the reader, it detects the card's ID number (or the part of that number that is not encrypted). This prompts the printer linked to that ezeep unit to print a registration page providing instructions for how to register for printing authorization, along with a serial number to input, which links to the ID number read on the tag, stored in the cloud-based software.

The individual can then use his or her laptop or other device to set up an account with an e-mail address and other credentials, including a password. He or she must also download the app, which adds the new printer and authorization to the device's OS dialog so that user workflows need not be changed. When a person is ready to print a document, he or she can use the ezeep system to prompt printing, then proceed to any designated ezeep printer and tap a dedicated RFID card or tag against the reader.

The tag ID is captured and forwarded to the software, which confirms the individual's identity and prompts the printer to release that specific document. The system ensures that printers do not simply print documents that might be left behind on a printer, or could be picked up by another party. Users no longer have to select a specific printer or find the appropriate machine where their document is waiting.

An individual using the system for a school, a library or a co-work space could use the card at any ezeep printers at sites under that organization's jurisdiction. The solution was released this year, Volkmer says, and is now in use across Europe, as well as in the United States, Australia and Asia.

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