ID card readers and ID card encoders are used to transmit personal information onto various forms of storage media and retrieve data as needed. ID card readers and ID card encoders consist of integrated hardware and software technology that can perform a variety of access control and management functions. There are many different types of ID card readers and ID card encoders. Examples include business card readers, smart card readers, proximity readers, and smart card encoders. A business card reader includes a pocket-sized universal serial bus (USB) scanner. Specialized software reads the card and allocates each entry to the proper field within a searchable database. A smart card reader reads data from magnetic stripes (magstripes) by analyzing the electronic signals. A proximity reader is used to control physical access and must transmit a fairly powerful carrier in order to read the card. A smart card encoder encrypts and writes data onto the three-tracks of a half-inch magnetic stripe. Other types of ID card readers and encoders are also available.
ID card reader and ID card encoders differ in terms of performance specifications, features, and methods of use. High-coercivity stripes are designed to store data for a longer period of time. They are usually black in color. Low-coercivity stripes are brown in color and designed to be rewritten multiple times. With a proximity reader, the user holds the card just a few inches from the ID card reader. The reader receives a unique identifier from the card and transmits the information to a central software system. A smart card reader can encode only low-coercivity stripes, but can read ID cards with both high-coercivity and low-coercivity stripes. Scanners are a sealed optical system for producing user-configurable programming cards. An access card is designed for personal use only and allows entry to specially-equipped areas. Specialized or proprietary ID card readers and encoders may carry additional specifications.
ID card readers and ID card encoders are used in industrial facilities, commercial buildings, airports, warehouses, museums and fine art galleries, and government and military centers. Typically, an ID card reader provides a more reliable level of user authentication than a reusable password.