BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) and HID Global, a provider of secure physical access cards and readers, today announced a new partnership that will allow users of RIM's BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 and Curve 9350/9360 smartphones to do away with those pesky cards and use their handhelds for secure access to buildings, among other things, using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology.
NFC on the BlackBerry Bold 9900
The new Bolds and Curves will be activated with HID Global's iCLASS digital credentials and will be compatible the company's iCLASS readers, which HID says are already widely used, to enable physical access systems in buildings, serve as student IDs, and track employee time-clock checkins and attendance.
RIM just recently released a fresh lineup of BlackBerry smartphones running its new OS, BlackBerry 7, some of which--but not all--support NFC; currently none of RIM's Torch smartphones have NFC due to a lack of the necessary hardware chip.
NFC has drawn a lot of attention in recent days, but most of the chatter has been around its potential to enable smartphone-based mobile payments. RIM and HID Global's announcement, ahem, "opens new doors" and offers a glimpse at other future uses of NFC. And, frankly, I'm pretty excited about the news. I think modern businesspeople are more likely to forget their wallets than their smartphones. I also think it makes perfect sense for RIM to strike first in this space, because so many corporate smartphone users already carry BlackBerrys. And you can bet other mobile device makers will build similar functionality into their handhelds in the not so distant future.
HID Global plans to demonstrate this new smartphone-based access card technology at the ASIS International 2011 security conference in Orlando, Fla., on September 19-22. (Find more information on ASIS International here.)
Arizona State University is already currently testing these new smartphone-based access systems, according to HID Global.
And the company says BlackBerry users with NFC-enabled Bolds and Curves should be able to use their smartphones as access cards starting in early 2012.