FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The invention relates to security systems and devices (e.g. identification cards) for locking and unlocking secure areas, such as entryways (e.g. doors, gates) and closable receptacles, and for safeguarding secure areas by verifying authorization of, and tracking, individuals located therein.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
In attempts to enhance secure identification of individuals many identification (ID) cards have been created using smart chips (such as U.S. Pat. No. 5,477,039, issued Dec. 19, 1995 to Lisimaque et al ). These chips optionally contain data storage that holds the individual's biometric date such as facial images, fingerprints, or retinal scans (such as U.S. Pat. No. 5,717,776, issued Feb. 10, 1998 to Watanabe, U.S. Pat. No. 5,787,186, issued Jul. 28, 1998 to Schroeder, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,219,439, issued Apr. 17, 2001 to Burger). To obtain entry to secure area, the individual is required to insert his/her card into a reader. The reader reads the biometric data contained on the chip and performs the detailed biometric test on the individual via devices that can read fingerprints, retinal scans, or other identifying biometric characteristics. The systems may provide very high security in areas where positive identification of the individual is required; however, the biometric readers are both expensive and complex. Such systems cannot be used reliably in high-volume areas, with many transient employees, or applications requiring routine positive identification for entry to the secure area without great cost such as airport entrances, or access to air traffic control rooms, or medium level security areas.
Other ID cards have named account numbers and other personal information encoded, either on a chip, or use a short range passive RF link, or alternatively a magnetic stripe card may be inserted into a reader capable of reading this information. In turn the individual may be asked to enter a personal identification number, or what is commonly called a PIN, on a door's keypad to obtain entry into a secure area (such as U.S. Pat. No. 4,839,506, issued Jun. 13, 1989 to Homma et al). In many other cases, a simple keypad is placed on the door and a code must be entered into the keypad to allow entry without a separate card (such as U.S. Pat. No. 4,887,445, issued Dec. 19, 1989 to Beatty, U.S. Pat. No. 3,953,769, issued Apr. 27, 1976 to Sopko, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,704,151, issued Jan. 6, 1998 to West et al, relating to a keypad on gun lock)). These keypad approaches provides only limited security when many individuals in high-volume areas such as airports, or office doors.
One major problem with systems that use a keypad located at the door, is that the codes must be frequently changed and distributed to many people on a weekly or daily basis. This process leads to significant security risks because the codes are often written down and provided in e-mail or memorandum form for the benefit of authorized individuals. It also becomes necessary to change the code whenever even a single individual leaves the employment of the company using such a keypad-guarded door. An alternative approach is to use a door with many different codes, one for each individual making use of the door. In that case, only a single code must be changed if an individual leaves employment of the company. However, as the number of codes that are capable of opening the door increases, the security level of entry decreases. In the simple case, if the door has three buttons labeled 1,2,3 and a code of only three digits for use (e.g. 3,2,1), the likelihood of entry by an unauthorized intruder is one out of nine, since there are only nine possible combinations. If the company wanted to provide unique access to four employees, giving each a unique code, the likelihood of entry by a non-authorized intruder now rises to four out of nine. In other words, an intruder enjoys almost a 50% probability of guessing a code that would allow unauthorized entry, and the security level of the door is therefore significantly decreased.
A third method of secure access, is simply to have a physical card with optional identity information associated with the card. For example, a picture, or the individuals name and address. The card may be placed in a reader to obtain access, or in some cases may transmit a signal to a reader that might open a door. The same system is used widely for automobile entry, where small “keyfobs” are used to transmit a unique signal to an automobile to open the doors and in some cases start the automobile. Again these wireless “keyfob” security system depend only upon holding onto (and not losing) a physical device to obtain entry and no independent checks of the person's actual identity or authorization to use the card or “keyfob” can be made. The security in this case is similar to the security afforded by the usual metallic mechanical key, which can be duplicated, and provides no assurance that its holder is authorized for entry.
Finally, a similar access system can be implemented using a cell phone, where a special number is called on the cell phone to make a purchase from a vending machine or gas pump. After the number is dialed, a special PIN number may be entered to verify the account holder's identity, and the machine of gas pump is unlocked (such as U.S. Pat. No. 6,535,726, issued Mar. 18, 2003, to Johnson).
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a method, system and device (e.g. ID card) that provides enhanced security for positive identification, and for individual as well as automatic entry into a secure area.
The invention broadly provides a system for controlling the operating state of a lock comprising:
a) a lock characterized by a locked state and an unlocked state,
b) a radio frequency reader, said reader being in operative communication with a lock to control the state thereof,
c) a radio frequency identity card comprising:
i) an electronic input device (e.g. keypad) located on said card for entry of secret information by an individual;
ii) an electronic encoding means for facilitating conversion of said secret information into encoded secret information, said encoded secret information being determinative of authorization of said individual;
iii) a wireless communication means (e.g. a wireless transmitter) operable to transmit information to said reader.
c) a data processor (e.g. CPU or central processing unit) operable to determine whether said secret information corresponds to said authorization.
It is preferable that the radio frequency identity card further comprise an energy storage device (e.g a battery) operable to energize the wireless transmitter, and that the aforesaid radio frequency reader and the aforesaid wireless communication means (e.g. transmitter) be operable at only a low radio frequency not exceeding 1 megahertz. It may be noted that the use of such low frequencies (e.g. 300 Khz or 128 KHz) is both unexpected, because a typical RF frequency for active cards and tags is, for example, 433 MHz, which causes a rapid drain of a battery in the card (or at a reader). The use of low frequencies (<1 MHz) is thus unexpectedly advantageous in reducing power requirements and enabling a long, practical, usable life for both the novel RF ID cards herein and for any battery-powered reader used to read the cards. The use of low RF frequencies not exceeding 1.0 MHz (when compared to the use of widely used high frequencies in the range of 100 MHz) importantly extends the life of the energy storage devices (e.g. batteries) that may be incorporated in the ID card/ID key and reader to energize their respective components, thereby greatly enhancing the utility of both RF ID key tags and of their readers.
Moreover, it is preferable that the aforesaid data processor/cpu be disposed within the aforesaid card (e.g. in the form of a microprocessor chip)and be operable to convert the encoded secret information into an unlocking signal and to provide that unlocking signal to the aforesaid wireless communication means.
Alternatively, both the aforesaid reader and data processor/cpu may be disposed at the lock, the data processor/cpu being operable to convert the encoded secret information into an unlocking signal and to provide that unlocking signal to the reader to unlock the aforesaid lock.
The invention also provides a system of tracking movements of individuals within a secure area, the aforesaid system comprising:
a) a loop antenna operable to transmit and receive RF signals from at least one radio frequency identity card;
b) a reader comprising a radio frequency transceiver operatively connected to the aforesaid loop antenna;
c) at least one radio frequency identity card which can be located within communication range of the aforesaid loop antenna, the aforesaid radio frequency identity card comprising:
i) an electronic input device (e.g. keypad) located on the aforesaid card for entry of secret information by an individual;
ii) an electronic encoding means for facilitating conversion of the aforesaid secret information into encoded secret information, the aforesaid encoded secret information being determinative of authorization of the aforesaid individual;
iii) a wireless communication means (e.g.transmitter) operable to transmit information to the aforesaid reader;
d) a data processor/cpu operable to determine whether the aforesaid secret information corresponds to the aforesaid authorization.
As will be understood, the aforesaid data processor/cpu may be disposed within the card, or at the reader, and is operable to convert the encoded secret information into an authorization code.
The invention further provides an electronic identity card comprising:
a) an electronic input device (e.g. keypad) located on the aforesaid card for entry of secret information by an individual;
b) a display for displaying public information for observation, the aforesaid public information having a relationship to the aforesaid secret information; and
c) an electronic encoding means for facilitating conversion of the aforesaid secret information into encoded secret information, the aforesaid encoded secret information being determinative of the existence of a required correspondence between the aforesaid secret information and the aforesaid public information to confirm the identity of the aforesaid individual.
Preferably, the aforesaid display comprises a permanent ID label attached to the card, the aforesaid label containing public identity information relating to the aforesaid individual.
Preferably, the display comprises a LCD display on the ID card to display the aforesaid encoded secret information.
Preferably, the aforesaid identity card further comprises a low frequency (e.g. less than 1 MHz) wireless communication means (e.g. transmitter) operable to transmit the aforesaid encoded secret information to a reader spaced away from the identity card. Advantageously, the communication means may comprise a receiver for receiving a command signal from the reader and for displaying the aforesaid public information on the display in response to the aforesaid command signal.
Preferably, the novel ID card further comprises an indicator device (e.g. LED), the aforesaid communication means then comprising a receiver for receiving a command signal from the reader and for activating the indicator device in response to the aforesaid command signal.
The invention also provides an electronic identity card comprising:
a) an electronic input device (e.g. keypad) located on the aforesaid card for entry of secret information by an individual;
b) an electronic encoding means for facilitating conversion of the aforesaid secret information into encoded secret information, the aforesaid encoded secret information being determinative of authorization of the aforesaid individual;
c) a wireless communication means (e.g. a wireless transmitter) operable to transmit the aforesaid encoded secret information to a reader, the aforesaid reader being in operative communication with a lock to control a locked state thereof.
Preferably, the wireless communication means is operable at a low radio frequency not exceeding 1 megahertz.
Preferably, the aforesaid electronic encoding means comprises a data processor/CPU and a data storage device. operable to store a lookup table/database of instances of secret information and corresponding instances of encoded secret information.
Alternatively, the aforesaid electronic encoding means may comprise a data processor/CPU operable to algorithmically convert the aforesaid secret information into the aforesaid encoded secret information.
Advantageously, the aforesaid wireless communication means is operable to transmit both the aforesaid secret information and the aforesaid encoded secret information to a reader, such reader being in operative communication with a lock to control a locked state thereof.
Preferably, the aforesaid card comprises an indicator device (e.g. LED), the aforesaid communication means comprising a receiver for receiving a command signal from the aforesaid reader and for activating the aforesaid indicator device in response to the command signal.
The invention also provides a method for controlling the operating state of a lock characterized by a locked state and an unlocked state, the aforesaid method comprising:
a) entering secret information on an electronic input device (e.g. keypad) located on a radio frequency identity card,
b) electronically comparing said secret information against an authorized code to determine whether the aforesaid secret information is authorized,
c) transmitting by radio frequency an unlocking signal to a radio frequency reader located at the aforesaid lock for opening the aforesaid lock in the event that the secret information is authorized.
Preferably, the aforesaid comparing step (b) is carried out by a data processor/cpu disposed within the aforesaid card and operable to convert the aforesaid secret information into an unlocking signal and to provide such unlocking signal to a wireless communication means.
Alternatively, the aforesaid comparing step (b) may be carried out by a data processor/cpu disposed at the aforesaid reader, such data processor/cpu being operable to convert the encoded secret information into an unlocking signal and to provide such unlocking signal to the reader to unlock said lock.
The invention also provides a method of tracking movements of individuals within a secure area, said method comprising:
a) using a loop antenna operable to transmit and receive RF signals (e.g. at a low frequency under 1 megahertz, such as 128 KHz) from at least one radio frequency (RF) identity card;
b) transmitting RF signals from a reader through said loop antenna to the aforesaid RF card to request a secret code;
c) entering the aforesaid secret code on an electronic input device (e.g. keypad) device located on the aforesaid RF card,
d) transmitting the aforesaid secret code to the aforesaid reader through a transceiver disposed on the aforesaid RF card; and
e) using a data processor/cpu located at the aforesaid reader, determining whether the aforesaid secret code corresponds to the aforesaid authorization.
According to the invention, the electronic input device on the ID card may take many forms, such as a voice recognition microphone with associated software, although a simple electronic keypad is currently preferred, based on cost and simplicity considerations.
Advantageously, the benefits of the invention can be achieved by providing each individual with a intelligent ID card that includes a small low-cost keyboard, and preferably a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD), an optional light emitting diode (LED) and an short range radio or IR data link (for example, at a radio frequency (RF) of less than 1 MHz, such as 300 Khz or even 128 KHz). The use of such low frequencies is important because they extend the life (when compared to the use of widely used high frequencies in the range of 100 MHz) of the energy storage devices (e.g. batteries) that may be incorporated in the ID card/ID key to energize their respective components
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the user may wear the card on a neck chain and as the user approaches a secure entryway, an RF Base Station located at the entry-way/door would cause the LED on the card to flash, thereby indicating that the door requires a PIN number to enter. On the card's keypad, the user would then enter a secret PIN number code that is specific for this card and the card would transmit a RF signal with this PIN code to the RF reader at the entry point of this door. If the correct number was entered by the user, the door will open.
In one preferred embodiment, the secret PIN is entered on the RF card's keypad by the user and then an encrypted version of the PIN code, which had previously been stored in the card, is compared to the keypad-entered PIN code. If they match the card transmits a digital code that opens the door. This first method, makes it possible to use a low cost lock that does not require a separate database of PIN numbers. For clarity:
PIN ENTERED ON CARD KEYPAD→CARD'S CPU MATCHES PIN TO CARD DATABASE→CARD SENDS “OPEN” CODE BY RF→DOOR RF READER UNLOCKS DOORLOCK
According to a second method, for example as illustrated in FIG. 8, the Wireless Key/RF card 1 will first confirm that the PIN number (entered at keypad buttons 56 ) is correct and then transmit both a special code to open the door lock (locking mechanism 57) plus the PIN number, whereupon the two numbers are compared to a database that is contained or accessed by a data processor/CPU 51 communicating with, and preferably located at, the lock 57 to first check both the PIN and the code before opening the door. For clarity: PIN ENTERED ON CARD KEYPAD→CARD'S CPU MATCHES PIN TO CARD'S DATABASE→CARD SEND BOTH PIN CODE AND “OPEN” CODE BY RF→DOOR RF READER AND READER'S CPU CHECKS BOTH CODE NUMBERS AGAINST DOOR DATABASE→DOOR UNLOCKS
In a third preferred embodiment, as shown in FIG. 9, the transmitter 63 of ID card 1 (Wireless Key/RF Card) may transmit only the keypad 65-entered PIN number, which is compared to a data base of access codes held in a storage device/programmable memory 62 at the door, and if correct, the door is unlocked. Again, for clarity:
PIN ENTERED ON CARD KEYPAD→CARD SENDS PIN BY RF→DOOR RF READER AND READER'S CPU CHECKS PIN AGAINST DOOR DATABASE →DOOR UNLOCKS
Preferably, an LCD display provided on the wireless ID card makes it possible to also confirm a person's actual identity, thereby ensuring that he/she is authorized to use the card. For example, when the person walks up to a secure area, a card reader, that is operable to detect the ID card, may flash the ID card's LED and may make the card's LCD display go blank via a challenge command transmitted over the low frequency (<1 MHz) RF wireless link from the reader. The user may then be prompted to enter the PIN number on buttons of the card's keypad, whereupon the data processor/CPU located in the card (or, upon RF transmittal, the CPU at the reader) calculates a public key number/indicator from the secret PIN number and causes display of that calculated public number on the LCD. The corresponding correct public number may be preprinted on a picture ID card that is attached to the ID keycard (or otherwise pre-known or predefined for comparison purposes); a security guard may then readily confirm the cardholder's identity by checking to see whether that the LCD-displayed public number matches the preprinted/predefined public number. For clarity: READER DETECTS CARD - - - RF CHALLENGE TO CARD - - - AUTOMATIC OR KEYPAD ID RESPONSE FROM CARD→PUBLIC NUMBER CALCULATED AT CARD OR READER AND DISPLAYED AT CARD'S LCD→COMPARE CALCULATED PUBLIC NUMBER WITH PREDEFINED PUBLIC NUMBER (E.G. BY SECURITY GUARD)→AUTHORIZE/EXCLUDE CARDHOLDER
As will now be understood, according to the third preferred embodiment ( as further illustrated in FIG. 9), the RF card (wireless key) 1 may transmit, by low frequency RF on link 64, the secret PIN number (entered on buttons 65 of the card's keypad) to a base station (directly or via retransmission by the card reader) having a central processing unit 61 (CPU) connected thereto, whereupon the central processing unit 61 would then carry out the calculation on the secret PIN number and open a door lock (locking mechanism) 66 or transmit the results (e.g. a public key) for display on the card's LCD display (not shown). The base station can also place special codes or letters on the LCD, as a request or challenge to the cardholder to enter (on the card's keypad) other special numbers (other than the PIN), such as birth date, or Social Security Number, whereupon the validity of the entered special numbers may be confirmed by an RF-transmitted message from the base station on the card's LCD . The displayed message may also be a public code that can be matched against a public code preprinted on the ID card. These challenge questions may be calculated on the RF card or transmitted to the base station via the RF link and then computed on a central server/data processor 61, which may open the lock 66 or simultaneously transmit the results of the match to the internet or to a security department connected to a private network.
Preferably, RF card and base station will use low frequencies (e.g. under 1 MHz, such as 128 KHz) to advantageously maximize battery life in the RF ID card (and at the reader if the latter is battery powered) .
If the base station interrogates cards via a loop antenna (field antenna) placed either in the floor or ceiling it is possible to localize and record an individual cardholder's progress, in position and time, as the individual proceeds through a secure facility. It is also possible, in accordance with the invention, to have a network comprising a large number of such ID's all within the reading range of one loop antenna (or interconnected set of loop antennae) that can be periodically interrogated by the base station. It should be noted that an additional advantage of low RF frequencies is that the cost of integrated circuits used for detection and transmittal of low RF frequencies is greatly reduced since CMOS based circuits may be used.
The tags may also be read and programmed by low cost handheld readers using a low frequency loop antenna communication link. Low cost locks may also be created using a simple CMOS chip set similar to that shown in FIG. 4, so that the lock and card set (together) may currently be manufactured at reasonable cost (e.g. for under $25.00).