FIELD OF INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to carrying devices such as a wallet adapted for storing radio frequency tokens such as contact-less radio frequency smart cards and identity tags which in normal use shield the token from electromagnetic radiation but also allow it to be presented to a reader when required.
Developments in radio frequency (RF) technology are evolving at a rapid pace with contact-less integrated circuit cards (ICCs) and RF identity (RFID) tags now in wide use. These RF devices provide speed and convenience of use since they can be presented to a reader at a distance but this same feature can also be used by unauthorized parties to read the data stored on said tokens.
To date the smart card industry has developed the following technologies which operate without engaging the contact interface:
Close-coupled (ISO/IEC 10536-0-1 mm range), have no metallic contacts but must be physically touched on a reader. These are receiving renewed interest as technological innovations have made them a cost-effective alternative to contact cards for a range of applications.
Proximity (ISO/IEC 14443-1-10 cm range, type a, b), typically operate at up to 10 centimetres, are currently the focus of industry activity, as they are making headway in replacing magnetic stripe as well as chip cards used for ticketing and payment cards.
Near Field Communication (ISO/IEC standard (ISO/IEC18092) operates in the 13.56 MHz frequency range, over a distance of a few centimetres. Operating at data rates of 106 kbits/s and 212 kbits/s, NFC is compatible with Philips' MIFAREŽ (ISO 14443 A) and Sony's FeliCa smart card protocols. Higher transmission speeds up to 424 kbits/s can be achieved between dedicated NFC devices.
Vicinity (ISO/IEC 15693-1-100 cm range), operate over a distance of up to one meter, and is used primarily in the domain of access control and materials tracking. Many see vicinity as a potential replacement for various proprietary RFID technologies.
RFID are generally of two types, low frequency 300 KHz and ultra high frequency 902-928 MHz. Both technologies are referred to as RFID as they include a unique identifier for each chip. An international standard ISO/IEC 18000, which describes RFID in the context of supply chain management, is now available, although most current solutions use a number of proprietary specifications.
Contact-less smartcards are credit card sized cards that are being marketed to consumers as a convenient alternative to magnetic strip cards for storing financial, health and other personal data. Because of their ability to store relatively large amounts of data on an embedded microchip, and associated security, it is envisioned that these cards will eventually be used for all banking, transportation, healthcare, insurance, social security, welfare and other personal data.
It is envisaged that the IC's embedded into RFID tags and contact-less smartcards will eventually replace other forms of information cards such as magnetic strip cards and contact smartcards, primarily due to their convenience. Whereas the latter must come into physical engagement with a reader, contact-less smartcards can exchange information with a reader via magnetic, RF, infrared or visible light radiation. In the case of modulated magnetic or RF radiation, a contact-less smartcard does not have to be removed from a persons wallet or carrier for the IC to be powered up for an exchange of information to occur. An international standard has been established which sets a range of one meter between reader and contact-less smartcard. Accordingly while magnetic strip and contact smartcards both deny surreptitious access, a contact-less smartcard can be powered up and accessed without the card owner's knowledge.
The chips or IC's used in smartcards can be manufactured in a less sophisticated form called an RFID chip. In their simplest form, these chips do nothing more than provide a means to remotely identify an object to which they are attached. They come in several different physical embodiments such as coin or pill shapes and are being installed in key rings, gambling chips and military dog tags for tracking and commercial applications. While RFID chips are generally less sophisticated than smartcards, they are still capable of being powered up and interrogated without the owner's knowledge.
For several reasons, contact-less smartcards do not typically have an embedded power source. First, most battery chemistries contain heavy and toxic metals and since these cards will routinely be lost or discarded, embedding a power source in the card would result in a negative environmental impact. Second, these cards are projected to be manufactured by the billions worldwide and any product that is produced in these numbers is extremely sensitive to manufacturing costs; Incorporating a battery into the card is simply too costly. Therefore, the most common approach to providing power to the embedded chip is via a modulated magnetic field. Such a magnetic field induces a current in a loop antenna (see for example U.S. Pat. No. 5,473,323 to Jreft, 1993) which is typically laminated as an internal layer of a smartcard. The embedded chip is usually manufactured with on chip charge pumps and power regulation to provide different voltages to the various parts of the chip. Some RFID chips have the inductive loop built right onto the chip eliminating the need for any external antenna at all.
Commercially produced RF readers typically have a range of one meter. However, it is possible that a reader could be produced or modified to generate a much greater magnetic field strength and thereby increase the effective range of communication. If such a reader were also equipped with a very sensitive receiver, the range and penetrating ability of the reader could be further enhanced. Since a RF tokens do not need to come into physical contact with the reader to exchange information, the user can no longer take a proactive role in securing the information on the IC. The owner must now rely entirely on software encryption or biometric techniques for security. Accordingly electromagnetic shielding can be used to protect information without requiring proactive measures by the owner.
There are a number of ways in which shielding can prevent the exchange of information between a RF Token and a reader. The simplest method is to prevent the card from being powered up by the electromagnetic field by shielding the RF token. Another solution is to simply shield or provide a means to disabling the antenna which may employee a pressure sensitive switch or special shielding built into the antenna. The problem with shielding only the antenna is that the antenna can couple capacitively to the shield in such a way that the shield itself becomes an antenna.
Therefore the best way to prevent unauthorised exchanges is to prevent the magnetic field generated by the reader from powering up the RF token in the first instance. A number of prior art documents disclose this method.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,647,714 issued to Goto (1987) discloses an inexpensive composite material made of layers of paper or plastic coated with electrodeposited iron to provide magnetic shielding. U.S. Pat. No. 5,288,942 issued to Godrey and Westfield (1994) teaches a similar invention using two thin sheets of soft ferromagnetic material which act as ‘keepers’ for the data stored in the form of magnetic patterns on the magnetic strip of magnetic strip cards. The soft ferromagnetic material in this invention can take the form of metal foil or powders added to moulded plastic resins.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,360,941 issued to Roes (1994) and assigned to Cubic Automatic Revenue Collection Group describes an electrostatic shield to protect the microchip embedded in a smartcard while simultaneously allowing communication to occur between the card and the reader. This shield is an integral part of the card and its stated purpose is to completely shield the chip from the effects of electrostatic potential accumulations and discharges while being receptive to alternating magnetic fields. However this shield does not give the user any control over when a data exchange takes place; it merely protects the chip from electrostatic damage and maintains communication with the reader.
- OBJECT OF THE INVENTION
Another category of prior art includes bankcard holders, which only protect the card from physical damage. U.S. Pat. No. 5,125,505 describes a cardholder that ejects the card when a button is pushed. U.S. Pat. No. 5,020,255 describes a cardholder in which the card is inserted and removed manually and is retained by a snap catch. U.S. Pat. No. 4,674,628 describes a similar holder which is incorporated into a key ring and is capable of holding several cards. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,080,223 and 4,697,698 both describe cardholders that hold several cards, which can be individually removed. What all of these patents have in common is that their preferred embodiments are made of injection moulded plastic parts which are incapable of shielding against magnetic fields. U.S. Pat. No. 5,337,813 actually mentions protecting the magnetic strip of the card from physical damage but it is not concerned with protecting the information stored on that strip from the effects of magnetic fields. None of these are concerned with shielding cards from electromagnetic radiation.
- STATEMENT OF THE INVENTION
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a carrying device for RF tokens which generally shields tokens from each other and from electromagnetic radiation but which allow individual tokens to be presented to a reader when required, or at least to provide a useful alternative to prior art devices.
According to the present invention a carrying device is adapted to hold one or more RF tokens and incorporates electrically conductive linings to shield said tokens from each other, when the carrying device is open or an individual token presented to a reader, but which shields the token or tokens from all electromagnetic radiation when the carrying device is closed.
Preferably the electrically conductive linings are made from a metal foil that sufficiently surround the RF token and be of adequate thickness as to reduce the electrometric field and thus prevent the RF token from being powered and therefore unable to transfer data.
Preferably the device has the general construction of a wallet which has compartments to hold bank notes, cards and visual material and in particular is adapted to securely hold RF tokens such as RFID tags and contact-less cards.
Preferably the device also contains one or more panels adapted to hold RFID tags and contact-less cards and to fold out of the device when the latter is open allowing individual RF tokens to be presented to a reader.
Preferably the device can hold up to eight RF tokens each of which can be individually presented to a reader without interference from the others when the device is open.
In an alternative form the device has the general construction of a money purse.
In yet another form the device has the general construction of a passport wallet.
In yet another form the device has the general construction of an identification badge or wallet.
In yet another form the device has the general construction of a mobile phone carrying case.
In yet another form the device has the general construction of an insert, lining or sleeve which can be used to shield an RF token that is hosed in any unshielded caring device.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In yet another form one or more of the RF tokens are not shielded from electromagnetic radiation when the device is closed thus allowing said unshielded token to be presented to a reader without opening the device, whilst at the same time shielding RF tokens contained within said carrying device.
FIG. 1 shows a contact-less smart card being inserted in a wallet;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the wallet of FIG. 1 fully opened;
FIG. 3 is an elevation of the open wallet of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is the cross section view I of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is the cross section view II of FIG. 3;
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 6 is the cross section view III of FIG. 4;
FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a leather wallet 1 which has multiple compartments for holding bank notes, 2, cards 3, and photographs 4. In addition it has, hinged on the right side, two panels 5, 6 which can fold out when wallet 1 is open. Panels 5, 6 also have slots 3 to hold cards.
FIG. 4 shows in cross section the construction of the left hand section of wallet 1. Outer skin 7 forms a compartment with the body of wallet 1 and is zipped to it by zip 8. This compartment is lined with aluminium foil liner 9 which shields the contents of the closed wallet against electromagnetic radiation. This section also has compartment 2 to hold bank notes and compartments 3 to hold cards.
FIG. 5 shows in cross section a continuation of this construction in the right hand section of wallet 1 where the continuation of outer skin 7 again forms a compartment with the body of wallet 1 and is zipped to it by zip 8. This compartment is also lined with the continuation of aluminium foil liner 9 which shields the contents of the closed wallet against electromagnetic radiation. This section also has compartment 2 to hold bank notes, compartments 3 to hold cards and compartment 4 which has a transparent-window to hold, for example, a photograph.
FIG. 6 shows in cross section panels 5, 6 in their closed position with outer transparent windows 11 forming slip in compartments which are lined with aluminium foil liners 12. Panels 5, 6 also have compartments 3 to hold cards and are hinged by a hinging means (not shown) securing the inner edge of panels 5, 6 to the right edge of wallet 1.
Accordingly, in addition to bank notes, cards and visually displayed material, wallet 1 can hold up to eight contact-less cards 10, 20 in compartments which are shielded from each other and which enable them to be presented for scanning individually when the wallet is open. This shielding from each other is necessary since only one contact-less card can be read by a reader at a time; if two unshielded cards are presented the reader will not register either correctly.
Further, when the wallet is fully closed the foil liner 9 forms a Gaussian (sometimes referred to as Faraday) cage which shields the contact-less cards 10 held in the inside compartments of wallet 1 from electromagnetic radiation thus rendering them secure from unauthorized reading. However contact-less cards 20 held in the zipped compartments formed by outer skin 7 are not so shielded and can be scanned at any time. Accordingly these compartments should only be used for RFID tags and other low security RF tags.
It will be realized that the foregoing has been given by way of illustrative example only and that all other modifications and variations as would be apparent to persons skilled in the art are deemed to fall within the broad scope and ambit of the invention as herein set forth. For example the carrying device could be a purse, wallet, mobile phone case or a device lining, as used in PDA, laptop computer, key fob holder, of simpler construction and of different synthetic materials but still using conductive linings to shield radio frequency tokens such as smart cards and RFID tags from each other and from electromagnetic radiation. All such variations fall within the scope of the present invention.
Throughout the description and claims to this specification the word “comprise” and variations of that word such as “comprises” and “comprising” are not intended to exclude other additives components integers or steps.