How Do Access Cards & Fob Systems Work?

by | Aug 19, 2019 | Latest News

Access control systems address one of humanity’s oldest needs: how to keep certain people out of a particular space while allowing others in. Guards, dogs, high walls, fences, tripwires, and simple pin tumbler locks once fulfilled that role. Today, though, businesses and residential areas more commonly turn to access control systems.

Access control works by restricting entry to a particular facility, usually through some combination of a sturdy portal that’s electronically locked. The electronic part of that equation can prove simple or complex. High-end biometric sensors provide excellent security, but they come at a cost. For most businesses, access cards and key fobs are a more economical option.

What Are Access Cards & Key Fobs?

access control key fobAccess control systems work similarly to the old lock and key, but they vary in a number of important ways. Instead of fiddling with a mechanical arrangement of tumblers and springs, an access control system sends a credentialed user’s code to a piece of software to unlock a portal — and an easy way to transmit that code is through an access card or key fob.

Admittedly, access cards and key fobs look a bit different. The former is a flat, thin slab of plastic that can easily slide behind an ID badge. The other is a stubby dongle with a loop designed to slip around a key chain. Their purpose, though, is exactly the same. Both contain an embedded code that interfaces with a matched reader. (More on that below!) In turn, the reader communicates with a database and determines whether or not the holder is on a pre-screened approval list.

What Is HID Access Control?

access control key cardIn the world of access control and electronic credentialing, HID Global stands out as a leader in access cards and readers. A subsidiary of lock manufacturer ASSA ABLOY, HID manufacturers key cards, fobs, and readers in virtually every form factor. No matter if you need to safeguard a retail complex, residential rentals, a condominium wellness center, or something else, HID has the hardware for you. AT&I Systems is proud to carry and install HID products.

What Is a Mullion Reader?

One of the form factors into which one can squeeze access control hardware is a mullion reader. Designed to fit onto the decorative vertical strip that can separate a pair of windows, mullion readers are exceedingly thin and small. Despite their name, such readers can fit on almost any interior or exterior surface thanks to their accommodating shape. Virtually all of them can also stand up to extreme heat or cold, making them ideal for external access points.

How Much Do These Access Control Systems Typically Cost?

The actual cost of an access control system depends on a number of factors, the most important of which being the scope of the project. High-end hardware can still be had for relatively cheap if you only need to safeguard one or two entrances in a small complex. But some estimates for businesses with 300 or more employees can range in the low five figures.

If you think an access control system that uses access cards or key fobs may be right for you, reach out via our online form or call us at (866) 436-3516 to learn more. We have more than 25 years in the industry and would love to help with your project!