What is a….Proximity Card?

Here at Allison Systems, we program and sell proximity cards everyday. However, we often get asked…”What is a proximity card?”

In short, a proximity card, or “prox card” is a “contactless” access control card that is read without swiping or inserting it into a reader. Unlike most ATM card readers, for example, users need only place their card near the electronic reader for the card to “read”.  The identification number programmed in the card is transmitted wirelessly to the prox reader. Depending on the card, prox cards can be read from inside of a wallet or purse that is held near the reader.

How do they work?

Proximity readers perpetually transmit a low-level radio frequency signal which provides energy to the card. When the card is in range, the radio frequency signal is absorbed by a  small coin within the card which powers the card’s microchip, which in turn contains a unique ID code. Once powered, the card transmits the code to the reader. Today’s technology allows this interchange to occur within microseconds!

What are the advantages of prox cards and readers?

The main advantage of prox cards is their simplicity. These systems do not require any moving parts to function, thus avoiding any mechanical wear. The card reader can be installed in most locations, such as a door or a wall. Additionally, the cards themselves are resistant to physical damage, thus saving you money by avoiding having to replace cards frequently. Prox card readers come in a variety of designs, include those that are vandal resistant.

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