Contactless smart card reading distance

Posted on 2010-01-02
Last Modified: 2013-11-09
If you were able to increase the battery size on a smart card would you be able to increase the distance from which it could be read say from 100ft away?
Question by:aantos
    LVL 12

    Accepted Solution

    No. Max distance on contactless smart cards is usually measured in inches, for a good reason. The theoretical maximums are inches to feet, and real-world are far lower. The longest range I've heard about is 30ft theoretical maximum, but realistically it's much lower.

    Increasing just the output power won't give you much improvement and can actually cause a large number of invalid reads - the encryption mechanisms used rely heavily on a number of factors, including tight timings. Changing these out of spec can easily cause invalid reads. There are other factors than just output power to worry about.
    LVL 38

    Assisted Solution


    Geowrian's comments are on target. But RFID technology can provide the range you are looking for (Active RFID can provide an even greater range).

    LVL 12

    Expert Comment

    You are absolutely correct - we just started going to active RFID. Basically, it's range is most limited by your wireless infrastructure. I didn't mention this because 1) We haven't deployed it yet, and 2) the question was about contactless smartcards, and going to RFID does require some significant changes/additions to get the initial infrastructure going.
    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    Based on the asker's comments in their other Q (, it sounds like RFID would not accomplish their goals anyway - they need an active transmission.

    Author Comment

    Thanks for the discussion.  Both of you have it pegged - I didn't want to invest in a whole new infrastructure to accomplish this basic task task.  The next phase requires two way communications to accomplish.

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