January 24, 2012

Key Fobs as part of Your Card Access System

We’ve written about access cards before, as well as key fobs in the form of wireless transmitters to arm and disarm your security system, for example.

Pictured above is a proximity card and reader

But today, we’d like to talk about key fobs vs. access cards as credentials for access control systems in terms of cost, durability and overall functionality.

Pictured above is a key fob on a key chain

So what makes a company choose to order a key fob over an access card, or vice versa from its supplier? After all, they use the same technology to trigger an electric strike to release a door—RFID technology, for instance. They both have built-in authentication.

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. Radio waves are transferred from your key fob or card (with its own unique code) through a reader that’s attached next to the door frame. When your fob is held within a certain distance from the reader, it releases an electric strike, or your door’s lock.

People who choose key fobs over access cards for their access control system usually do so for convenience and durability.

Many find it more convenient to keep their key fob on their key chain and simply wave it in front of the reader (cards can be waved in proximity to a reader as well--they’re called “prox” cards.) If a card is used (unless you have a lanyard), many times you’d have to take it out of your wallet or fish for it in a purse.

Key fobs are also considered more durable by many users. They are not flimsy and can handle the wear and tear of being pulled in and out of pockets, purses, etc. They’re less likely to split or crack.

We're not saying that there's anything wrong with using access cards over fobs. In fact, one benefit to using cards is price. They tend be considerably less expensive than fobs.

Another reason why access cards may be chosen over fobs is because photo identification can be used along with cards. Some companies require badges to be worn in many areas, if not throughout their entire facility. The photo ID badges (cards) can also be swiped—a magnetic strip would be on the reverse.

Fobs are shaped such that they cannot accommodate an image, whereas cards offer a great area over which to superimpose an image of someone’s face and accompanying information.

As this blog article's title reads, fobs can be part of your card access system. Many organizations will have both as each can be used with the same reader to enter through a door.

So there are valid reasons to choose either fobs or cards, or mix of the two. But one thing is for sure: each option presents a better solution than "old fashioned" keys which leave no audit trail of who went where at what time. Key systems don't allow you to restrict certain areas of the building to certain individuals either, or have doors lock and unlock at certain times of the day.

Thanks for spending some time with us today, and click here for more information on specific access control credentials and accessories.


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