Sony and Global HID to unify FeliCa and NFC laptop reader technologies

Sony and Global HID are coyly batting their eyelashes at each other over a memorandum of intent to jointly develop an embedded contactless smart card reader platform for laptops. The idea is to create a single reader compatible with Sony's popular FeliCa solution in Japan as well as NFC, HID Global's own iCLASS, and more. As a refresher, about 315 million FeliCa cards are in circulation worldwide with another 67 million FeliCa-capable mobile phones in Japan used for electronic payments, access, interactive advertising, and membership rewards systems. Hell, Sony's even got a FeliCa reading remote control. The dark arts of Near Field Communication have been given a boost recently with support from Nokia and the US carriers AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. Even Apple is rumored to be getting in on the action. So let's ink a contract already fellas, anything that will unify all these "standards" into a common embedded laptop reader sounds like a good idea to us.

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HID Global and Sony to Form Alliance to Create Contactless Smart Card Readers for the Global PC Market

Jointly Developed Global Laptop Reader Platform Will Include Sony FeliCa™, HID Global iCLASS®, NFC and Other Widely Deployed Contactless Technologies

IRVINE, Calif. and TOKYO, Oct. 12 -- HID Global, trusted leader in solutions for the delivery of secure identity, and Sony Corporation today announced they have entered into a Memorandum of Intent for a strategic partnership to jointly develop an embedded contactless smart card reader platform for the global PC marketplace. The jointly developed platform will be designed specifically for laptop manufacturers and will encompass Sony and HID Global contactless solutions and a broad range of other widely deployed technologies while supporting specific regional and application needs.

The new embedded reader platform will support Sony's FeliCa contactless card technology, HID Global's iCLASS credentials, as well as other broadly adopted technologies. Furthermore, the reader solution will support applications based on Near Field Communication (NFC). Goals for the joint development, including a complete reference design and comprehensive developer support, are focused on minimizing product development requirements and speeding time-to-market schedules for PC manufacturers. Plans are in place to provide details and availability later this year.

"We are pleased to be working with Sony to develop a major new laptop-based reader platform for the contactless smart card market," said Dr. Tam Hulusi, Senior Vice President with HID Global. "This partnership leverages Sony's industry-leading contactless smart card reader IC experience with HID Global's widely deployed RFID technology for access control systems, extending the value proposition for contactless smart card credentials to the PC."

"HID Global is an ideal partner in Sony's drive to expand the use of contactless smart card reader technology, worldwide," said Izumi Kawanishi, Senior General Manager with Sony's FeliCa Business Division. "This partnership is an important element in our program to extend FeliCa and NFC technology into new markets in the U.S. and around the world, across a broad range of platforms ranging from cards to mobile phones and, now, laptop computers."

Deployed in Asia for more than ten years, Sony's FeliCa technology is used in approximately 67 million mobile phones in Japan, and more than 315 million FeliCa card chips have been shipped for transportation, electronic money and other applications, worldwide. FeliCa has been the basis for transportation access and merchant communities where customers can easily and rapidly purchase goods and services. This year, FeliCa's PC reader, which is also embedded in the remote-control unit of a TV, has exceeded 10 million units shipped. FeliCa microchips combine processing, storage and communications functions and comply with NFC standards. They provide a fast, convenient and secure all-in-one solution platform for multiple applications, including electronic pre-paid transactions, access, interactive signage and membership or loyalty rewards systems.

HID Global's iCLASS smart cards and readers deliver the convenience, affordability, reliability and versatility of proximity technology while enhancing security through encryption and mutual authentication. iCLASS technology for the jointly developed HID Global and Sony smart card readers will also be securely delivered via HID Global's Trusted Identity Platform™ (TIP), which enables all end points in a system or network to be validated so that identity transactions between them can be trusted at any time, on demand.

HID and Sony are now discussing details of the partnership and finalizing a definitive agreement. With this partnership, HID Global and Sony will further expand their product solutions to increase the benefits and convenience of contactless applications globally.

About HID Global

HID Global is the trusted source for secure identity solutions for millions of customers around the world. Recognized for robust quality, innovative designs and industry leadership, HID Global is the supplier of choice for OEMs, system integrators, and application developers serving a variety of markets, including physical and logical access control, card personalization, eGovernment, cashless payment and industry and logistics. Headquartered in Irvine, California, HID Global has over 1,700 employees worldwide and operates international offices that support more than 100 countries. HID Global is an ASSA ABLOY Group brand. For more information, visit

About Sony

Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, game, communications, key device and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. With its music, pictures, computer entertainment and on-line businesses, Sony is uniquely positioned to be the leading electronics and entertainment company in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $78 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010.