AMPS Receives Smart Card Grant

AMPS Automation, Inc. of Morgantown, has been given a WVHTC Challenge Grant award to investigate smart card technology, and to evaluate the case for bringing this industry sector to West Virginia.

 You are familiar with the magnetic stripe credit card. The appearance of a smart card with a magnetic strip is the same. However a smart card, also known as a chip card, may also have a processor, memory, and perhaps even an internal radio antenna.

 These features enable reading and writing of information from or to the card. This in turn allows a tremendous range of capabilities to reside on or to be controlled by the card. Identification is on the card, cash deposits can be on the card to take the place of cash. Depending on the programming on the card, you can have credit cards, debit cards, cash cards, information storage cards, physical or virtual access cards, full RSA encryption and even biometric information such as fingerprints for security.

 "I believe that smart cards will prove to be the "enabling" technology that allows development of solutions for a number of applications. They will enable secure electronic commerce. Smart card technology will enable both intranet and internet security, privacy, and control for users, at the personal level, without relinquishing its freedoms. They will enable economic, comprehensive, but private and secure health care record solutions. Smart cards combined with biometrics will enable absolute verification, authentication and authorization in high security applications."

 There are a number of pilot programs in the US. One of the earliest adopters of smart card technology has been university systems. For example student id, library, laundry, meals, sporting events, ticketing, small cash purchases, physical access into buildings and so on may all be done with a smart card. At Florida State Univeristy, (FSU) this year benefits from scholarship programs were transferred to student cards and from there to the university, moving about 60M$ via these cards.

 A number of states now use electronic benefits transfer, allowing elimination of food stamps, by putting cash or food benefits on the cards. This eliminates the necessity of administering that program, and eliminates the profit from black market in cards since they are only usable by the intended person. The number of states with driver's license on smart cards is growing as well.

 Smart cards will enable information personalization in the way computers, networks, cell phones, screen phones, and many public devices respond, by containing information about the way you want the device to work. Place your card in the reader, and the device will behave as you prefer.

 Smart card technology has been in use for 20 years in Europe and Pacific rim countries, and just now beginning to be used in the United States. Standards such as the Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) protocol, and a number of hardware and interoperability agreements have been reached and endorsed by most of the major corporations in the world.


Al Allison of AMPS Automation, Inc., seated, signs papers for accepting a challenge grant. Standing, from left, are Amy Compton Shaffer, Foundation contract specialist; Gerri Angoli, Allison's business partner, and Foundation President Larry Milov.


"The stage is now set for the development of the infrastructure in the United States. Credit alliances such as Master Card and Visa, Telecommunications corporations, broadcast and cable entertainment providers, transportation industry payment and cash transfer networks, internet service and software corporations all have an existing infrastructure. Each could be made viable as a carrier of any or all of any of the other services by using smart card technology as the enabler. Clearly, the traditional industry sector boundaries will fall."

The capabilities of smart cards, such as the use of JAVA as a platform and card independent language, multiple application cards, radio frequency contactless cards, biometric cards are increasing daily. The growing infrastructure shows that smart cards will play an ever-increasing role in the way society interacts.

 AMPS has over ten years experience in auto id, barcodes, and other tracking technology. Serving as system integrators we intend to develop the smart card industry sector in West Virginia. By teaming with members of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium we will scale up our capabilities to secure larger contracts relating to smart cards as this technology moves into being in the United States.

 For more information contact Al Allison at 304-599-8933 or