You might be carrying one right now yourself. They let you into the building in the morning. They unlock the printer, pay for your lunch… but did you know they can also be scented – or even implanted?
1/ Not All Created Equal
At first sight they’re all the same, but really, they’re not. That piece of plastic may bear an inconspicuous magnetic strip or stripe, a barcode, or a chip. All three variants are used for identifying employees at the entry to a building or its parking garage. You need them for printing documents, and some of them can even be topped up with credit and used when paying their owner’s expenses. Just 10 to 15 years back, most of the cards you’d find in Prague were the magnetic type. Today most payment cards, for example, use a combination of technologies – that’s considered the safest.
2/ They Grew Up Under Kennedy
The first truly functional plastic cards owed their existence to the charge-card pioneers Diners Club, who wanted to develop their cardboard restaurant payment card into something that felt more prestigious – like an elegant loyalty card.
They became very popular in America in the 1960s. And the materials they were made from became more advanced. So in the 1980s, they began to be made from truly durable PVC that could withstand years of intensive use. Still, for many years, these plastic cards existed alongside metal or paper “colleagues” (which can now hope for a comeback – see the next point).
You can use your mobile phone to access the TOP office buildings.
3/ Like a Straw
Today about 35 billion plastic cards are produced each year. That means an average of four news cards per year per person. But that may soon change. After the wave of campaigns against plastic straws (produced in numbers about five times those of plastic cards), companies are now looking at how to replace the cards as well. IKEA, for example, is considering using a cardboard-like material in place of plastic.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear they can have special custom shapes. But there are also firms that will make coffee- or popcorn-scented cards for your company. You can even find them here in the Czech Republic.
With chip installed in your hand you are able to open the door instead of using a plastic card.
5/ Under Your Skin
Cards starting to get under your skin? Then you can make that official: you can have a chip with the same features as the cards implanted under your skin. Several dozen people have already had this done in the Czech Republic. And in Sweden, a company named Epicenter has “chipped” dozens of its employees this way. Via RFID, the chip under their skin helps them into the building or lets them use the printer without a sign-in process.
Another option is to use your phone instead of a plastic card to open doors to your office. This solution was recently presented by Skanska as a part of Connected by Skanska – its smart OS for modern office buildings developed by Sharry Europe.