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< Contents ERCIM News No. 53, April 2003

RESET - A Roadmap for European Research in Smartcard Technologies

by Olivier Trebucq and Bruno Cucinelli

RESET is the first ever made attempt of the smart card industry to assess, in a global way, its technology priorities and R&D orientations. Experts in six technology domains have organised workshops from October to December 2002 and are now finalising the roadmap.

RESET is a Thematic Network to build a roadmap investigating future research challenges and opportunities in the field of smart cards. It includes representatives from European smart-card industry and the research community. RESET is jointly managed by ERCIM and Eurosmart, supported by the IST Programme of the European Commission.

Smart cards are key components addressing security needs in a number of well established consumer applications. Although the smart card industry is currently experiencing a decreased development rate - mainly resulting from the global slow down of ICT markets and in particular mobile phone markets - experts are convinced that there is still an enormous potential for smart card deployment in traditional, and new application areas.

Traditional high-volume applications include banking, telecom, pay-TV, etc. There is still a strong need for innovation to address the requirements of those applications to overcome existing limitations and anticipated evolving environments. But an even higher potential for smart card technology applications is expected from upcoming ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence environments. These environments create a need for 'handy' personal keys that can provide the required level of trust and confidence to users in networked applications. Current smart card technology has an advance over other solutions to address these needs - however some key aspects such as improvement of online security management and speed of communication protocols must be seriously considered to enable the integration of a trusted personal device such as a smart card in networked applications.

Domains of Investigation In order to establish a suitable roadmap, the project had to take into account a specificity of smart card systems, which is to integrate a wide range of technologies. The investigation carried out has therefore been divided in six main technology areas, each of them covered by one expert working group:

  • communication and networking
  • systems and software
  • interface technologies
  • peripherals, subsystems and microsystems
  • high-end cryptography, tamper-resistant and security technologies
  • micro-electronics.

The investigation of the working groups was carried out following a common framework which included the following topics:

  • state of the art: existing and emerging technologies, their limitations, competing technologies
  • on-going research: inside and outside the smart card world
  • evaluation of technology and marketing requirements
  • research orientations for improvement: short, medium and long term.

The results of this investigation and consultation process will be published in a report. A draft has been presented and discussed during an public seminar in Brussels on 3 April. The report starts with a short description of the socio-economic context that influences the development and deployment of new generation smart card applications. Then a summary of the main outcomes of the 6 working groups is introduced. The report also includes a summary of the main driving and blocking factors that condition the evolution of smart cards and then identifies the technical challenges that need to be mastered to enable the European smart card technology suppliers to deal with these factors, address anticipated requirements and exploit new market opportunities. Further, it lists the resulting main R&D targets and RTD programmes and resources that have a capacity to carry out smart card technology related research. Recommendations are proposed for integrated collaborative research programme that would federate the required level of European R&D resources to address these R&D targets.

The final report will be available on the project website. Interested people can submit their email address to be informed when the report is published.


Please contact:
Bruno Le Dantec, ERCIM office