Texas Instruments Enters Government ID Industry

To address the highly demanding requirements for secure identification documents, such as the electronic passport (e-passport), Texas Instruments  (TI) recently announced it is applying core capabilities in contactless and power efficient microcontroller technologies along with advanced embedded memory for next generation government identification products that deliver greater speed, performance, and productivity in issuance and use to customers.

TI's contactless smart integrated circuit (IC) platform will offer an improvement over today's government ID chip technology by enabling fast and accurate production, personalization and processing of government-issued electronic ID documents. Powered by an advanced memory technology, it will feature extremely fast write and read times as well as increased memory capacity and processing performance to accommodate the required security and future data storage requirements.

"The government ID customer has ever-increasing security and memory requirements and the user experience requires fast RF performance," said Julie England, vice president of Texas Instruments. "TI has focused on solutions that are highly optimized and low power, coupled with extraordinary contactless RF performance. We want to bring those strengths to customers in the ID market."

The government electronic ID market is gaining momentum as traditional citizen ID documents transition to higher levels of security using embedded smart chips. Contactless technology is a key component of this evolution.

In its September  report, "Contactless Government Identification Documents," ABI Research states that the total market for contactless e-passport transponders is set to grow to nearly $190 million by 2012, while the total market for contactless e-ID documents is expected to reach nearly $1 billion by 2012. With several national ID card programs underway in Europe and Asia, contactless-enabled national ID cards are expected to grow to approximately $750 million by 2012.

Most of the current government ID smart ICs are based on legacy technologies which filled an immediate need for secure electronic ID in first generation government ID applications.

However, some countries, including the United States, are already looking for significantly faster write speeds to create and process documents more quickly. According to the  Department of State, U.S. e-Passport issuance is expected to grow rapidly from 12.1 million in 2006 to 17 million by the end of 2007. With such volume demands, the need for accuracy and efficiency in production and post-issuance processes is critical. Other advanced market requirements for next generation products include enhanced memory capacity to support future security requirements such as additional biometrics.

TI's contactless smart platform for the next generation of government ID will employ an advanced embedded memory technology, called FRAM (Ferroelectric Random Access Memory), which improves the speed and reliability of future smart, secure e-passports and government ID documents.

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