LONDON – Several European chip companies have come together in a collaborative research project called New Pass that is intended to develop the hardware and software for a future generation of e-passports.
Europe has a strong position in the application of electronics to security, which is already helping the continent's chip companies. For example, the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) recently awarded a five-year contract for an embedded security chip to be included in the U.S. passport to Germany's Infineon Technologies AG.
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Among the 15 participants in New Pass are Infineon Technologies AG and smartcard company Giesecke & Devrient, both based in Munich, while NXP Semiconductors Germany GmbH is the Hamburg headquartered subisidiary Dutch chip company NXP Semiconductors BV. Other participating chip companies include STMicroelectronics, Gemalto and ID3 Technologies, all of France.
The objective of the research project is to create data structures and secure chip architectures for electronic identification that goes beyond what is currently deployed so that electronic identification can support changing personal information and transactions.
This would allow the updating of personal details as well as the storage of additional information such as arrival and departure information. Another focus of the project is creating digital ID documents that can be used in mobile applications such as smartphones and tablet computers running operating systems such as Android, Windows Phone and iOS.
The three-year research project is part of the European cluster program called Catrene. It nominally began on May 1, 2012, and has an expected budget of 30 million euro (about $40 million). The companies participating are responsible for half the budget with national governments picking up the other half of the cost.