IBM, Netscape, Oracle and Sun have introduced a would-be standard for smartcards that will offer enterprise access for any network devices, including network computers (NCs).
The Opencard Framework provides a set of programming interfaces for application vendors to use when building applications for NCs and smartcards. According to the companies, the use of smartcards will enable NC users to access network-based information when they are on the move.
Instead of carrying laptop computers, users will just carry smartcards which, when slotted into any network access device such as an NC or even Web-enabled mobile phone, will unlock access to databases, email, Internet applications and electronic commerce.
John Noakes, marketing manager for smartcard solutions at IBM, said: ?The aim of the standard is to guarantee that your smartcard will work on any NC that you sign up to.?
The Opencard Framework was an extension of the Network Computer Reference Profile, a standard introduced by Sun last May to encourage interoperability in the emerging network computer industry.It is similiar in concept to the PC/SC workgroup standard introduced by Microsoft, HP, Bull and Schlumberger at the end of last year to encourage connectivity between PCs and smartcards.
?Microsoft?s standard isn?t for the NC arena,? said Noakes. PC/SC is aimed at improving the way a card is read when it is put into a smartcard reader integrated with or attached to a PC. Future NCs will have a smartcard slot built into the box. The smartcard will carry a personal profile and security authentication.?
According to Noakes, products conforming to the Opencard Framework will start arriving towards the end of the year.
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