Smart Cards & Identity Credential Evaluation Services

Exponent has particular expertise in the area of smart cards.  These electronic, credit-card sized cards contain an embedded integrated circuit which can be used for identification, authentication, data storage, encryption, and computation.  Exponent has worked on ensuring the durability and reliability of smart cards and other credentials for over 15 years.  We participate in the ANSI and ISO Working Groups on Identification Cards and Related Technologies and help write the standards relating to Physical Characteristics, Test Methods, and Interoperability.  In our Identity Lab, we evaluate smart cards as well as e-Passports, machine readable travel documents (MRTD), phones, keyfobs, derived credentials, and other identification devices and associated equipment in accordance with FIPS201, ISO, ANSI, ICAO, and other relevant standards. Exponent is certified to ISO 9001.

Our test and evaluation services include:


  • Standards Testing - FIPS201, ISO, ANSI, ICAO, and other standards-based physical and electrical tests for smart cards, e-passports, and other identification systems and devices
  • Compliance Testing - Testing for compliance to existing specifications and preparation of specifications for future iterations of smart cards, machine readable travel documents (MRTDs), and other identification equipment and devices
  • Mechanical, Durability, and Reliability Testing - Accelerated testing, wear testing, and service life prediction
  • Radio Frequency Tests – 
    • RF and RF shielding tests; Electro-magnetically Opaque Sleeve testing; interference / EMC tests 
    • Functional and risk testing of contactless ID cards, financial payment cards, keyfobs, and e-passports
    • NFC testing

A partial list of specific tests includes:

Physical Parameters


  • Height, width, thickness, corners  
  • Warpage 
  • Light transmittance  
  • Bending stiffness  
  • Blocking  
  • Temperature/humidity stability  
  • Flammability 
  • Delamination 

Magnetic Stripe Parameters 


  • Placement  
  • Surface roughness  
  • Surface profile  
  • Resistance to chemicals  
  • Wear from read/write head  
  • “Window” and resolution test  
  • Erasure and demagnetization test 

Magnetic Encoding Parameters 


  • Location of start sentinel  
  • Location of tracks  
  • Signal amplitude and “jitter”  
  • Character decode 

IC Card and ID Device Tests 


  • Static electricity exposure  
  • Bending properties  
  • Torsion properties  
  • Profile of contacts   
  • EMC exposure  
  • UV light exposure  
  • ESD exposure  
  • Alternating electric fields  
  • Alternating magnetic fields 
  • Electromagnetic shield tests 

Durability/Life Tests 


  • Abrasion tests  
  • Flexure tests  
  • Embossed character retention  
  • Chemical resistance  
  • Fade resistance  
  • Tamper resistance  
  • Environmental exposure  
  • Impact resistance  
  • Structural integrity   
  • Aging tests  
  • Stress tests  
  • 3-Roller tests  
  • Pressure tests 

Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)


  • Susceptibility of cards, readers, chips and terminals to ESD
  • Ability of cards to transmit ESD to a reader/terminal
  • Human body model (HBM) and charged device model (CDM) tests

Radio Frequency Tests


  • NFC testing
  • ISO14443 contactless testing in accordance with ISO 10373
  • Load modulation
  • Shielding

A number of other specialized and client-specific quality, durability, and interoperability tests are performed on identification devices and related equipment and can be customized based on our client’s needs.

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