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Java-based multi-function smart card technology

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Zurich, Switzerland, 24 Sep 1998—IBM demonstrated for the first time a prototype implementation of Java* technology on a smart card at the Defending Cyberspace '98 conference in Washington, D.C., in late September 1998. This development shows the value of combining Java with the convenience of the smart card format.

The prototype uses Java virtual machine technology that its developers at IBM Research - Zurich have optimized for performance and small footprint. This advanced implementation includes support for the JavaCard™* 2.0 specification as well as enhancements to increase performance.

The prototype is designed to show application developers how JavaCard™ technology can be used to simplify the process of creating and enhancing smart-card-based applications. Any application supporting JavaCard™ can run on any other smart card that supports the specification. Applications can be combined, modified, or enhanced at any time, independent of the hardware. For example, a card for electronic payment could be enhanced to also enable the booking of airline tickets and car rentals. Hotels could enable such a multi-function card to operate as a key card for a specific hotel room by loading the corresponding software onto the card on demand.

Another advantage of the Java-based card is the greater security this technology offers, as the virtual machine checks and controls every function to be carried out and prevents direct access to the hardware. Developers can also expect solid performance from Java technology when applied to smart cards, since the time-consuming basic functions such as communication, persistent storage and cryptographic operations are implemented in native code.

* Java and JavaCard™ are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

Press contact

Nicole Strachowski
Media Relations
IBM Research - Zurich
Tel +41 44 724 84 45

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