If you've maxed out the memory on your camera, action cam, or smartphone, then there's a good chance you've invested in a memory card. Just one catch -- your laptop might not have a compatible port to speak with your memory card. That's where a card reader comes in. These handy go-between devices transmit data between a memory card and your computer. Let's answer some common questions about memory card readers.

The difference between the two types of smart cards is the manner with which the microprocessor on the card communicates with the outside world. A contact smart card has eight contact points, which must physically touch the contacts on the reader to convey information between them. Since contact cards must be inserted into readers carefully in the proper orientation, the speed and convenience of such a transaction is not acceptable for most access control applications. The use of contact smart cards as physical access control is limited mostly to parking applications when payment data is stored in card memory, and when the speed of transactions is not as important.

Biometric templates may be stored in the memory of readers, limiting the number of users by the reader memory size (there are reader models that have been manufactured with a storage capacity of up to 50,000 templates). User templates may also be stored in the memory of the smart card, thereby removing all limits to the number of system users (finger-only identification is not possible with this technology), or a central server PC can act as the template host. For systems where a central server is employed, known as "server-based verification", readers first read the biometric data of the user and then forward it to the main computer for processing. Server-based systems support a large number of users but are dependent on the reliability of the central server, as well as communication lines. 

All biometric readers work similarly, by comparing the template stored in memory to the scan obtained during the process of identification. If there is a high enough degree of probability that the template in the memory is compatible with the live scan (the scan belongs to the authorized person), the ID number of that person is sent to a control panel. The control panel then checks the permission level of the user and determines whether access should be allowed. The communication between the reader and the control panel is usually transmitted using the industry standard Wiegand interface. The only exception is the intelligent biometric reader, which does not require any panels and directly controls all door hardware.

Sometimes memories can fade in time, but then we can experience something which brings decade’s old memories flooding back. It could be finding an old photograph, the feel of something in our fingers, the sound of seagulls squawking overhead or the smell from a bakery wafting in the breeze as we are walking along the street. Then, just for a moment, it is as though we are right back in that once-forgotten moment, experiencing the joy and happiness as though reliving it.