Have you ever noticed a black magnetic stripe at the backside of our credit card? A number of thoughts run through your mind. For what purpose magnetic stripe is used? What information this stripe contains? Is the information only being read or the encoded information is copied? And, if information is saved, what could be the consequences?
A thought like this inspire us to take a closer look at the card technologies and the family to which they belong- Automatic Identification and Data Capture technologies (AIDC).
Answers to all these above mentioned questions are simple. The purpose for using magnetic stripe technology and in general, AIDC technologies, is to identify people or objects through machine automated process.
Now again the question arises, why are these technologies cropping up in the most routine tasks of our everyday lives?
This machine automated reading of magnetic stripe makes the job easier and, therefore, more efficient. The clerk does not have to tally the information needed, all by himself, a machine quickly does it for him. It also helps in making fraudulent IDs easier to detect. Both efficiency and fraud prevention ultimately save the business money.
What is AIDC?
Automatic identification and data capturing is a method of automatically identifying objects, collecting data about them and entering data directly into the computer system. All this process is done automatically without any human involvement. Human involvement is confined to a user scanning an AIDC equipped item which is bar coded.
The information associated with the object is called identification data. This data may be in the form of images, sounds or videos. Before feeding the data into the computer system, this data is converted into a digital file. Hence, a transducer is employed to fulfill this task i.e. to convert actual data into digital file. Now, in computer system a database is fed. The stored data file is analyzed by a computer or is compared with other files in a database to verify or to provide authentication to enter in a secured system.
AIDC technologies mainly consist of three principle components namely-
Data encoding- alphanumeric characters are translated into the form that can be read by machine.
Machine scanning- scanner reads the encoded data and converts in electric signals.
Data decoding- electrical signals is transformed into digital data and then finally into alphanumeric characters.
Following are the various AIDC technologies:
· Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
· Magnetic Stripes
· Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
· Smart Cards
· Voice Recognition
· Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS)
· Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS)