Physical Access Readers (S2:E60)
May 25, 2023
Ron Fiedler, Sr. Product Manager at Identiv, joins us for a deep dive into Identiv’s complete line of physical access readers. Our technology can provide everything from strong authentication and FICAM compliance to frictionless mobile options.
Voiceover: You're listening to Humans in Tech. Our podcast explores today's most transformative technology and the trends of tomorrow, bringing together the brightest minds in and outside of our industry. We unpack what's new in physical access, identity verification, cybersecurity and IoT ecosystems. We reach beyond the physical world, discuss our digital transformation as a species, and dive into the emerging phygital [00:00:30] experience. Join us on our journey as we discover just how connected the future will be and how we will fit into that picture.
Host: Thanks for tuning in. On today's episode, we welcome Ron Fiedler, senior product manager at Identiv. Ron is here to tell us about Identiv's PACS readers, as well as some of the other outstanding Identiv products. Thank you for being here today.
Ron Fiedler: Hey. Thank you for having me, Leigh. How are you? I'm looking forward to talking about our readers.
Host: Yeah. Good. I don't really get to talk about readers [00:01:00] very much. This is a really good conversation for me. So first off, please fill us in on your role at Identiv. What's your day-to-day life like here?
Ron Fiedler: Sure. So I joined Identiv June of last year after some time with Casi-Rusco and rf IDEAS and ELATEC. So I've been involved in RFID and access control for a while. And I joined them right in the midst of this supply chain issue with readers and credentials as employees were kind of going back into the office. And Identiv [00:01:30] did a really good job through that period with delivery. So our product line is stable. In fact, out of that, we've developed some supply relations with some other access control companies. So a lot of my time has been on sales support and refreshing and developing collaterals for our reader line, but in addition to that, I manage our third-party relationships. So this involves [00:02:00] complementary technologies to us, mostly hardware but some software as well. So things like biometric, wireless locks, long range readers, handheld and more. So that's also part of my role.
Host: I didn't know that you worked at rf IDEAS before. I had no idea.
Ron Fiedler: Yeah. 15 years.
Host: Nice. So tell us more about Identiv's line of access control readers. I've heard a rumor that we may have the fastest PIV contactless readers in the industry.
Ron Fiedler: So the Identiv [00:02:30] readers, we brand them under you uTrust TS, TS being touch secure. So that's our branding and we bought all the necessary form factors in our line. Our TS is based on MIFARE DESfire Technology as a number of others in the industry have settled on. So we've got a competitive, secure memory, contactless offering, including option for custom or what we call VIP keys. And we're [00:03:00] unique in this industry being a full line manufacturer. So we manufacture our own credentials. We manufacture our own readers. We write our own firmware, manufacture our controllers. And we manufacture the host software. So at that control of the reader firmware and the controller firmware, that's where we get to do our creative engineering so that we're optimizing performance, which shows up in some things like processing time, which you [00:03:30] referenced.
Host: What does it mean to be fastest? What is the fast of a PIV contactless reader? Is it like the time to swipe and open? Or what does that mean?
Ron Fiedler: I would say a typical [inaudible 00:03:48] card on a reader is a quarter of a second, 250 milliseconds. You're going to get a little bit more time with the processing of the card and stuff, but it's just really the amount of time the cards insert until [00:04:00] the door pops open.
Host: Got you. So Open Supervised Device Protocol, OSDP, is an access control communication standard developed by the Security Industry Association. And it was developed to improve the interoperability among access control and security products. Can you tell us a little bit more about OSDP and how Identiv readers are differentiated in that space?
Ron Fiedler: Yep. So OSDP is a bidirectional protocol and [00:04:30] primarily was developed to address deficiencies in the standard Wiegand protocol, which was just one-way communication. And while it's a standard, it seems each reader manufacturer and controller manufacturer has implemented their protocols to their own specific needs. So it shouldn't be assumed that any OSDP reader is going to work on any controller out in the market. In fact, [00:05:00] some of our industry partners made us aware of the unique implementation. So again, combined with our broad reader offering and our ability to deliver, that's where we got into these formal supply relationships with other access companies. I should also mention OSDP was necessary in order to achieve ICAM.
Host: Oh. Okay. Okay. That makes sense.
Ron Fiedler: Yeah. So their standard, it does also require [00:05:30] licensing agreements for interoperability with specific manufacturers, controllers. When you get outside of your own world. In our world, we can do our own OSDP on the reader, we can do our own OSDP in the controller, so you don't have that issue. We've designed off of the OSDP specification for optimizing and then gives us that ability to host update [00:06:00] reader firmware.
Host: Identiv's Hirsch ScramblePad keypad readers can also be found in some of the most secure locations in the world. We've done a series, World's Most Secure Buildings, where we talk about the really important aspects of securing some of the world's most secure locations. What is the history of the ScramblePad and some of the key features we can share with the audience?
Ron Fiedler: So I'd say Identiv's identity is actually Hirsch Electronics and that includes [00:06:30] this original ScramblePad. Stephen B. Hirsch, he invented it back in 1980 and then patent was issued on it in 1982. And the problem he was solving was stolen PINs from people watching someone else enter on a keypad, called it shoulder surfing, or by just wear and tear placed on commonly used codes. So he literally designed a way to randomly scramble those 10 digits [00:07:00] every time you start up that reader and so that people can't develop that pattern and steal PINs. So today, the ScramblePad, it's a digital display, high intensity lighting and viewing restrictors, so very secure, and we have it in a couple of versions that's offering up to two-factor authentication where we're using a PIN and then either a contactless smart card or a contact credential like in the government.
Host: [00:07:30] Another option for US government security is the line of contact smart card readers. Can you tell us more about those?
Ron Fiedler: Identiv, again, we're unique in this area because we are reader manufacturer and we make our own access control readers for doors, but we also have a line of USB contact smart card readers and modules that came out of an acquisition of SCM Microsystems. In fact, [00:08:00] Identiv has a separate division internally called Identity or Verify managing that line, but we've combined those two technologies when you get to our contact readers. And we've got contact only. We've got contact with a keypad. And we've got contact in the ScramblePad. So particularly in the government PIV credential space is where that's used. So again, we know this technology, this contact [00:08:30] smart card technology, and we're able to deliver from the door to the desktop and in between. The other thing is these readers are listed on GSA FICAM PACS Proof product list as an end-to-end solution. So by us managing it as an end solution, this then simplifies resources. Our customers and our channel partners need to design their own complete systems.
Host: Security is going frictionless and access control is getting [00:09:00] smarter. We're becoming more and more reliant on personal devices at the same time. It's not really a surprise that our mobile phones have become the key, I mean literally the key, to unlocking doors. So what is Identiv's involvement with mobile credentials?
Ron Fiedler: So the smart card or the smartphone as a credential started in 2011 with a pilot. That's a long time for a technology to be trying to develop a market. [00:09:30] Many of us are familiar with a mobile credential concept at a hotel where you have that option to use your phone to get in your room instead of a key card, but also it's made its way into residential locks. And a neat application is the lock boxes realtors put on houses are now pretty much all opened by a mobile credential. So there's some solid applications out there. And the concept and the products, [00:10:00] the mobile credential, the readers and the [inaudible 00:10:04] portal that you manage this all with, they're relatively easy to develop. There's quite a lot of mobile credential providers across the world, but they've all faced limitations, variety of limitations. One being power consumption on the phone. Another one is read range.
So it still has some challenges and now [00:10:30] it's faced with some kind of a moving target on the underlying technology level because near-field communication was used, then Bluetooth low energy was used, and now there's a new one, ultra-wideband. So it's still being debated on what the best underlying technology is, or maybe using a couple of those in combination to get the best user experience. Apple also has a role here, because [00:11:00] they have done mobile credentials from in the pay, point of sale, Apple Pay, but they had a hesitancy to open that up to access control. So you have organizations. You'd have mixed environment of Android and iOS, but maybe both can't operate for door access.
And then in our world, there's currently still little opportunity in the government space, even though in healthcare, so some verticals aren't adopting it, but higher education is. [00:11:30] Higher education has long had this concept of a one-card system where one credential, whether it's a physical card or key fob or now the phone does things like door access and cafeteria and laundry. So I guess long answer here, Identiv does have a mobile credential product called MobilisID. We think it's good for select interior doors. And we're also poised for further participation as [00:12:00] these other underlying technologies kind of sort out through partnerships. In fact, we've got access to at least three other mobile credential providers as a need arises.
Host: Well, yeah, as we said at the start of that, just that security is going frictionless and definitely access control is getting a lot smarter and also just that frictionless part is such an important part of just the experience. Anything that you can make frictionless [00:12:30] or less invasive in using security and in installing security and applying security is better for the person who actually has to use the tech.
Ron Fiedler: Yeah. I think you see similarities in the biometric world where fingerprint is pretty pervasive, but there's been quite a bit of movement with the facial authentication technology, again, along the same lines of you not having to touch anything.
Host: I actually participate in SIA's [00:13:00] Facial Recognition, Government Affairs Organization, the meeting, the working group that they have and it's led by two people from SIA who are government affairs experts. And they are constantly monitoring all of the facial recognition and some biometric legislation that comes up either at the state or federal level. And it's just really interesting to hear the legislation that pops up and [00:13:30] what part of it is true or factual or not and people's concerns. And as we get more frictionless in access control, I think that it's just something that needs constant education in not only the industry but also with the end users and people voting on those kinds of technologies to make it clear and concise why it's necessary but also why it's safe.
Ron Fiedler: Yeah. Yeah. And messaging is key and all that. I always thought it [00:14:00] was a little odd in the biometric space where the argument was, particularly coming out of COVID with fingerprint biometric, "Oh, we don't want to touch that dirty sensor," but then you'll grab the door handle right beside it and open the door without [inaudible 00:14:17].
Host: Right. Exactly. That's such a good point. Such a good point. Well, hey, a great conversation today, Ron. You gave us a really good overview of Identiv's access control products. Thank you for joining us. And we appreciate you taking the [00:14:30] time out of your day to participate in the Humans in Tech podcast.
Ron Fiedler: Thank you. Appreciated the time.
Host: If you enjoyed this podcast, please like and subscribe for me. We drop a new episode every Thursday.
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Physical security. Identity verification. The IoT. The hyperconnectivity of our lives will only grow more pervasive. As technology becomes more automated and experiences more augmented, it's up to us to preserve our humanity and use new tools and trends for good. The only question is are we up for the challenge?