In an effort to bring common standards to the emerging smartcard arena, Sun's JavaSoft division has unveiled its newest set of specifications for smart card operating systems, the JavaCard 2.0 draft specification.
The specification, which provides developers with a common set of APIs to create smartcards that tie into Internet applications and desktops, is in the final stages of development and testing and could be released as early as next week at Internet World in Chicago.
"The specifications are in the hands of our licensees right now and a selected group of others," says David Spenhoff, director of product marketing for JavaSoft. "As soon as we get the comments in then we'll publish it."
A smartcard is about the size of a credit card and contains small computer chips that can be used to interact with a variety of different communication devices, including network computers, PCs, and ATM machines, and can be used for user identification and authentication.
The JavaCard 2.0 specification, which builds on its JavaCard 1.0 predecessor, will see refinements in support for 16- and 32-bit card chips, improved authentication capabilities, greater ability for cards and readers to interface with each other, and better applet loading. The specification will also sport greater international support for foreign languages and general infrastructure improvement to the card itself, according to Spenhoff.
"JavaCard 1.0 was a great platform that got the Java card out, but with JavaCard 2.0 our expectation is that we will see widespread smartcard implementation later this year," he says. "The smartcard industry is entering a period of explosive growth and greater availability."
The versatility of Java when used in application development has given it the potential to be a standard for all smartcards, according to some industry analysts.
"Smartcards can do multiple things, but one of the reasons they haven't is because they don't have the software that can support multiple applications," according to Jonathan Cassell, industry analyst at Dataquest. "The smartcard market has been limited by a lack of common software out there."
Spenhoff predicts that the use of Java will boost the number of smartcard applications being written.
JavaSoft, in Cupertino, California, can be reached aon the World Wide Web at http://www.javasoft.com/.