Sony to Supply Advanced Student ID Cards


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Blackboard Communications Systems announced Wednesday that it would be partnering with Sony to begin developing contactless identity card systems in the U.S. Blackboard designs "one-card" systems for campus transactions, bridging financial, data, access, and authentication systems into a single "network transaction environment."

The company's swipe-able card systems are in place in many academic institutions across the globe. By partnering with Sony, and utilizing its successful FeliCa system, Blackboard systems will be able to produce student identifications that work like SpeedPass and EZPay.

FeliCa works on the industry standard Near Field Communication (NFC) protocol, which has been successfully integrated with door access readers, point-of-sale terminals, cell phones, as well as other attended and unattended devices. And not just Sony devices either: mass transit systems in Japan, China, Thailand, India, The Phillipines, and Hong Kong all utilize FeliCa chips in various capacities for fares and ticketing.

In addition to protected financial transactions, a contactless identification card system is able to take student attendance, and grant them access only to approved areas.

With headlines of school shootings becoming an almost weekly occurence, on-campus security measures have become a major concern for students, parents and faculty in American learning institutions. The need for an efficient emergency announcement system and an effective means to remotely "lock down" a campus were especially apparent after the Virginia Tech shootings in April.

If Sony's FeliCa technology is placed in students' phones, like the "Osaifu-Keitai" marketed by NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank Mobile in Japan, students could start using the Blackboard system not only as a key, identification and credit card, but also as a system to send SMS updates to all students in the event of an emergency lockdown, or on a more positive note, for a snow day.

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