The present invention relates to a data carrier having at least two
different data carrier portions, one of which is optically readable, and to an
adaptor for use in reading the same. The invention relates particularly, though
not exclusively, to data carriers involving "smart cards".
CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs and the like provide convenient ways of storing
large amounts of data, such as audio, video and software, and have proven to be
very popular. They are conventionally round in shape, and, in accordance with set
standards, are either 120 mm or 80 mm in diameter (the latter being known as "mini
CDs" or as "CD singles").
Non-round CDs are also produced. These may for example be for promotional
usage, in which the CD may take on an eye-catching form or the form of a product
or the like. Information can then be provided on such CDs, e.g. in a multimedia
manner, relating to for example a product, company or the like.
Business cards can now also include a CD data portion, e.g. to provide
appropriate information on a business through audio, video and/or software stored
in the CD portion.
Such non-round CD items can be played in a CD player either by shaping
them so that they have portions which can engage with the mounting grooves, wells
or slots in the CD player tray, or by mounting them in an adaptor which itself
then suitably engages with the tray.
A discussion of such non-round CDs and adaptors is provided in Australian
Patent Application No. 72109/01 filed on 13 September 2001 and entitled "An optically
readable carrier and an adapter therefor". The contents of this document are incorporated
herein by reference.
The above application also describes an optically readable carrier
that can be used as a smart card. The data carrier thus has both an optically
readable portion, such as a CD or DVD portion, and a smart card chip.
Such a carrier enables a card issuer for example to provide promotional
and/or marketing material on the carrier. For example, the issuer may wish to
provide an audio or video presentation of a new product or service, and/or may
wish to provide software for accessing or providing required information. Although
this could theoretically be achieved by providing the data on the smart card chip,
it is best achieved, in practice, by an optical recording.
The combination within a single unit of CD or DVD technology with
smart card technology is able to reduce costs without compromising the amount of
information available. The two technologies are able to compliment one another,
as the CD or DVD technology is ideal for recording static information, whilst the
smart card technology can handle changing information.
In the above-mentioned Australian Patent Application, the combination
optical data carrier and smart card is of a stepped configuration, with the optically
readable data part of the card having a thickness dimension of about 1.20 mm and
with the smart card part of the card having a thickness dimension of about 0.80
mm. These dimensions accord with current standards for the two technologies.
The present invention provides an alternative form of data carrier
Viewed from one aspect, the present invention provides a data carrier
and adaptor therefor, wherein the data carrier includes a first, optically readable,
data carrier portion and a second data carrier portion, wherein the data carrier
has a maximum thickness that is less than that required by a reader of the first
data portion but that allows the carrier to be read by a reader of the second data
portion, and wherein the adaptor has a compensating element for enabling an optical
reader to read the first data portion when the carrier is mounted on the adaptor.
Thus, a smart card with a CD recorded portion in accordance with the
present invention can be sized so as to be received fully within a smart card
reader, whilst also being readable by a CD player through the use of the adaptor.
The adaptor can suitably mount the card so that the reading laser of the CD player
is able to focus on the data track in the CD portion of the carrier.
The invention also of course extends to the data carrier itself and
to the adaptor itself.
The invention is in contrast to the solution provided in Australian
Patent Application No. 72109/01, discussed above, in which the CD/DVD portion of
the carrier is configured for correctly playing in a CD player or the like. In
the present invention, the CD (or other optical data format) portion is allowed
to be thinner than that required by the optical data player, and this is then accounted
for by providing an adaptor with a suitable compensating element for enabling
A smart card in accordance with the present invention may thus be
sized to be fully inserted into a smart card receiver, e.g. as may be required
by automatic teller machines of banks or other financial institutions.
Generally, a CD or DVD player requires a media thickness of between
1.10 and 1.50 mm, and so the invention can also be seen as providing a data carrier
of both optically and non-optically readable data, the carrier having a maximum
thickness which is less than 1.10 mm, an adaptor being provided to account for
the lack of thickness when the carrier is played in an optical data reader.
Also, where the invention is to be used with smart cards and the like,
they generally require a thickness of 0.76 ± 0.08 mm in order to be used with
standard readers. Accordingly, the invention can further be seen to reside in the
provision of a data carrier having both an optically readable data storage portion
and a non-optically readable data storage portion, the carrier having a maximum
thickness of 0.84 mm, or preferably 0.80 mm, or less, and an adaptor being provided
to account for the lack of thickness when the carrier is played in an optical reader.
The data carrier may take any suitable form, and preferably is of
uniform thickness. It may for example itself be sized to engage with the locating
parts of an optical reader, such as the grooves, wells or slots within the receiving
tray of a CD or other optical player. Alternatively, the adaptor may provide this
function, as well as providing the compensating element.
In a particularly preferred form, the data carrier is of rectangular
shape, and it is especially preferred for the data carrier to have dimensions as
defined for a standard smart card (e.g. as defined by the ISO or other standards
Although the use of the present data carrier with smart card technology
is of especial advantage, the invention is also applicable to other forms of data
storage. Thicknesses and dimensions would then be determined according to appropriate
standards for those data technologies. For example, the present invention may also
be applied to the magnetic recordal of data, e.g. on magnetic strips, and, the
invention thus provides for the production of an optically and magnetically readable
data carrier of reduced thickness. In this case, the card dimensions may for example
be set in accordance with appropriate standards for magnetic cards. The magnetic
strip would preferably be provided on the opposite side of the carrier from the
optically readable side, so as not to interfere with this function.
It would also be possible to combine both smart card and magnetic
technology on the same card with an optically readable data portion.
When the data carrier is used as a smart card, the smart card chip
may be embedded or otherwise located on the carrier in an appropriate position
for reading. This position is set within strict guidelines for smart chips of the
contact type (e.g. having gold contacts for engagement with sprung reader contacts),
and may require the optical data portion of the carrier to be mounted off-centre,
in which case the adaptor may need to compensate for this so that the optical portion
is central when mounted in a reader tray.
Positioning is not so crucial for "contactless" smart cards, as these
cards use an antenna, and the data is read using an electromagnetic signal that
can be effective at a range of for example 5 cm. The chip can therefore be placed
anywhere on the carrier so long as it does not interfere with the optical storage
Preferably, when provided as a contactless smart card, the data carrier
uses a chip having an integrated antenna or an antenna that is close to the chip,
so that the antenna does not interfere with the optical data portion.
The inventive data carrier may be made in any suitable manner, as
would be well understood by the skilled man. Thus, the carrier may be made using
the standard processes of optical disc fabrication (e.g. for CD, CD-R and/or DVD
technology), and the carrier may be moulded, e.g. from polycarbonate material.
The skilled man would have no difficulty in embedding conventional elements such
as a smart chip or a magnetic strip into these carriers.
Various methods of producing an optical data and smart chip card are
also further discussed in Australian Patent Application No. 72109/01 mentioned
above, and are incorporated herein by reference.
A difference in the fabrication process would be that the thickness
of the optical data portion is made less than that required by the relevant standards.
This may be achieved for example by reducing the thickness of the main, e.g. polycarbonate,
body of the carrier.
The data may be recorded on the optical data portion in any suitable
format, such as in a CD, CD-R, CD-Audio, CD-ROM, or DVD format or any other suitable
format, as appropriate, and the card and optical data portion may be fabricated
The carrier may be single or double-sided, and may also be single
or double-layered, e.g. to take account of double-layered DVD formats.
The adaptor itself and the compensating element may take any suitable
form, and the compensating element may form a supplementary lens for e.g. the
laser beam of the optical player.
Preferably, the compensating element comprises a portion of the adaptor
which is of a thickness such that when the data carrier is mounted thereover,
the combined thickness of the optical portion of the data carrier and the compensating
element falls within the thickness range required by the appropriate optical reader,
e.g. so that when mounted in the receiving tray of an optical reader the data track
of the optical portion of the carrier lies in the same plane as that onto which
a reading laser beam is designed to focus.
Preferably, the compensating element has a thickness of between about
0.82 and about 0.26 mm (corresponding to the differences between maximum and minimum
CD and Smart Card thicknesses). The compensating element preferably has a thickness
of between about 0.4 and about 0.5 mm.
The material from which the compensating element is made is preferably
of the same refractive index as that of the surface part of the optical portion
of the carrier, e.g. a refractive index of 1.55, (so as not to affect the expected
focus point of the laser beam). The compensating element is thus preferably made
from the same material as the outer layer of the optical data portion of the carrier,
e.g. polycarbonate material. An added advantage of making the carrier and adaptor
of the same material is that the two are then able to make good contact between
The adaptor itself is preferably also made of the same material, e.g.
Whilst the making of the compensating element and preferably also
the whole of the adaptor from polycarbonate is preferred, it would also be possible
to make the element from a different material having a different refractive index.
This may then entail altering the thickness of the compensating element appropriately
so as to take account of the different refractive index, and so as to ensure proper
focussing of the reading beam of the optical player onto the carrier's data track.
Although not necessary, it may also be useful to surface treat the
optical data portion of the carrier and/or the compensating element so as to ensure
a good coupling of the laser beam through them, and/or to prevent reflections,
interference and the like.
The adaptor may have any suitable shape, and need only extend over
the actual area of the optical portion of the carrier if desired, for example if
the carrier itself were configured to engage with the receiving tray of the optical
reader. Preferably, however, the adaptor is configured to do this, and may take
any suitable shape to achieve this, including for example the shape of the prior
art non-round CDs and/or their adaptors and the inventive CDs and adaptors, as
discussed in AU 72109/01 mentioned above.
In an especially preferred embodiment, the adaptor is of circular
shape, and has a diameter suitable for the appropriate optical reader, e.g. either
120 mm or 80 mm for a CD or DVD player.
The adaptor and data carrier may engage one another in any suitable
manner, and, in one possible form, the data carrier may merely sit on the adaptor,
the optical reader in use clamping the carrier and adaptor together. In this case,
the adaptor may take a planar form, e.g. the form of a flat disc. It may also,
however, include locating elements for initial positioning of the data carrier
on the adaptor.
In another form, the adaptor may comprise a recess for receiving the
data carrier, the compensating element being provided at the base of this recess.
The data carrier may extend out of the recess, and need not be flush to the adaptor
As mentioned, the optical portion of the data carrier may be off-centre
from the carrier itself, e.g. in order to accommodate a contact-type smart chip
in the required position from the carrier edges. In such situations, when optically
read, the data carrier will be off-centre from the optical player's spindle, as
the spindle will extend through the centre of the optical data portion. The adaptor
therefor may be configured to position the off-centre optical portion of the carrier
correctly in the centre of the optical player's tray, and to stabilize the carrier
when rotating during play. The adaptor may for example have an off-centre well
or other locating formation to compensate for the off-centre position of the optical
portion of the data carrier.
The adaptor may also be configured to take account of the off-centre
mounting of the carrier therein, e.g. by being appropriately counter-weighted so
as to ensure stable rotation of the carrier/adaptor assembly during use. This
may for example take the form of holes in the adaptor or other appropriate weight
distribution e.g. through a change in thickness of the adaptor.
Where the adaptor is made of the same material as the data carrier,
it has been found that counter-weighting is not necessary, as the only non-symmetric
aspect is the position of the smart card chip, which is not significant.
The adaptor may be one-piece moulded, or may comprise two moulded
portions fixed together, one piece having an opening therein for receiving the
data carrier and the other piece comprising a flat base portion (sized to provide
the required compensation thickness for the data carrier).
The data carrier and adaptor may also include other suitable features
from the above-mentioned Australian Patent Application No. 72109/01, such as the
use of resilient retaining means for holding the carrier in place on the adaptor
or the use of a cross-shaped well for receiving either of two carriers of different
dimensions, and the description of these features are also incorporated herein
Embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way
of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood
that the particularity of the drawings does not supersede the generality of the
preceding description of the invention.
In the drawings:
- Figure 1 is a top view of a smart card in accordance with one embodiment of
the present invention;
- Figure 2 is a side elevation of the card of Fig. 1;
- Figure 3 is a schematic diagram showing why an optical reader would fail to
read the card of Fig. 1 without an adaptor;
- Figure 4 is a schematic diagram showing the reading of a card using an adaptor
in accordance with the present invention;
- Figure 5 is top view of a smart card and adaptor assembly in accordance with
a first embodiment of the adaptor;
- Figure 6 is an edge view of the assembly of Fig. 5;
- Figure 7 is an enlargement of the area "A" of Fig. 6;
- Figure 8 is top view of a smart card and adaptor assembly in accordance with
a second embodiment of the adaptor;
- Figure 9 is an edge view of the assembly of Fig. 8;
- Figure 10 is an enlargement of the area "A" of Fig. 9;
- Figure 11 is top view of a smart card and adaptor assembly in accordance with
a third embodiment of the adaptor;
- Figure 12 is an edge view of the assembly of Fig. 11; and
- Figure 13 is an enlargement of the area "A" of Fig. 12.
Referring to Figs. 1 and 2, a smart card 1 in accordance with the
present invention includes a smart card chip 2 for recording data in electronic
form, and a CD portion 3 for storing data to be read optically in e.g. a CD player.
The card 1 and the embedded or imprinted chip 2 are dimensioned and
positioned so as to conform to the appropriate standards, so that the card 1 may
be read by a standard smart card reader. For example, the appropriate standards
for a contact-type smart card are ISO/IEC 7816 for the positioning of the chip
2, and ISO/IEC 7810 for the thickness of the card (which should be 0.76 ± 0.08
Thus, in this embodiment, the card 1 has a uniform thickness of 0.80
mm, and the other dimensions are as shown in Fig. 1.
The CD portion 3 is positioned so as to allow for the correct positioning
of the contact-type smart chip 2 with respect to the card edges. It takes the
general form and construction of a standard CD, and accords with usual CD standards,
except for its thickness, which is discussed more fully below.
Thus, the CD portion 3 has a central hole 4 of 15 mm diameter for
receiving a spindle during play, a clamping area 5 for clamping the card 1 in
position during play, a lead in and table of contents (TOC) area 6a, a program
area 6b, and a lead out area 6c.
As is standard, the CD portion will generally comprise an injection-moulded
piece of clear polycarbonate plastic that is impressed during manufacture with
microscopic pits/lands arranged as a single continuous spiral track of data circling
from the inside of the disc portion 3 to the outside. A thin reflective layer of
aluminium is then sputtered onto the disc and a thin acrylic layer is spin coated
over the aluminium to protect it. The remainder of the card, e.g. for mounting
the smart card chip 2, may be made from the same polycarbonate material during
the same moulding process.
Generally the thickness of a CD is 1.20 mm (+0.3/ -0.1 mm). However,
in the present card 1, the CD portion 3 is the same thickness as the rest of the
card, i.e. 0.80 mm. This is achieved by a reduction in the depth of the polycarbonate
plastic from the depth that would otherwise be standard.
By deviating from the CD standard for thickness, the card 1 is able
to be fully inserted into a standard smart card reader, so that the user can take
full advantage of the smart card 1, and can for example use the card 1 in the
automatic teller machines of banks and other financial institutions.
The present invention also provides an adaptor 7 (see e.g. Fig. 5)
so that the CD portion 3 of the card 1 may be read by a CD player.
The need for the adaptor is schematically shown in Figs. 3 and 4.
Thus, in Fig. 3, the laser beam 8 of a CD player is focussed by a lens 9 so that
it will normally scan a plane 10 when a standard CD of thickness 1.20 mm is played.
In the present case, however, the CD portion 3 has a thickness of only 0.80 mm,
and so the laser beam 8 would fail to focus accurately on the pits/lands 11 of
the data track 12. A CD player could not therefore read the data held in the CD
portion 3 of the data carrier 1 if inserted by itself into the player.
In accordance with the present invention, however, as shown in Fig.
4, the CD portion 3 has a compensating element 13 placed over it (the compensating
element 13 may form all or part of the card adaptor). This compensating element
13 is of the same refractive index as the body of the CD portion 3, e.g. is made
from polycarbonate, and is of a suitable thickness, e.g. 0.40 mm, such that the
laser beam 8 correctly focuses on the pits/lands 11 in the data track 12. It may
be considered as a lens element.
One embodiment of an adaptor with a card 1 mounted therein, is shown
in Figs. 5-7.
The adaptor 7 comprises a moulded polycarbonate disc 14 with a rectangular
recess 15 therein for receiving the card 1, and a central hole 16 for receiving
a CD player spindle.
The adaptor 7 serves the dual purpose of locating the card 1 correctly
in the CD receiving tray of a CD player and of providing the compensation element
13 for allowing the CD player's laser to correctly focus on the data in the CD
portion 3 of the card 1.
Thus, the adaptor 7 has a diameter of 120.00 mm to accord with usual
CD standards. It also has a thickness of 1.20 mm and a recessed portion 15 with
a depth of 0.70 mm thereby leaving a base 17 of the recess 15 with a thickness
of 0.50 mm, so that the portion of the base 17 that opposes the CD portion 3 of
the card 1 can act as the compensating element 13 in the manner shown in Fig. 4.
Thus, the portion of the card and adaptor assembly that is read by a CD player
will have a combined thickness of 1.30 mm, which is within the thickness range
required by the CD standards.
A point to note is that the CD portion 3 is not centred on the card
1 (in order to accommodate the chip 2 in the correct position with regard to the
card edges), and so the well 15 of the adaptor 7 is itself off-centre, so as to
centrally locate the CD portion 3 in the CD player tray. As both the card 1 and
adaptor 2 are made of the same material, polycarbonate, the resulting assembly
is still well-balanced (the off-centre position of the smart chip 2 is not significant),
and so counter-balancing measures are generally not required to stabilize the
assembly during playback of the card 1. If needed, however, suitable counter-balancing
formations could be provided on the adaptors, e.g. in the form of suitably located
holes or thicker/thinner areas of the adaptor.
Further adaptor embodiments are shown in Figs. 8-10 and Figs. 11-13.
The adaptor 7' of Figs. 8-10 is the same as that shown in Fig. 5,
but has a thickness of 1.30 mm, so that the card 1 lies flush within the adaptor
The adaptor 7" of Figs. 11-13 is the same as that shown in Fig. 7,
i.e. it has a base thickness (and so compensating element thickness) of 0.50 mm,
but in this case, the disc 14 has a thickness of only 0.80 mm.
In the Figs. 5 and11 embodiments, the card 1 can be seen to project
out from the recess 15 above the surface of the disc 14. There is no problem with
this projection, so long as the portion of the overall assembly of disc 14 and
card 1 that is read is within the standard CD thicknesses, i.e. the combined thickness
of the CD portion 3 together with the compensating element 13 is within standard
CD thicknesses. Thus, in these embodiments, the assembly can be suitably clamped
and read in a CD player due to the correct assembly thickness in the region of
the CD portion 3 of the card 1, whilst the outer dimensions of the disk 14 ensure
that the card 1 is accurately located within the CD tray during rotation.
Indeed, the adaptor need have no recess 15, and, instead, the card
1 may merely sit on top of a flat adaptor, which would then have a uniform thickness
of about 0.50 mm (to provide the appropriate compensating element 13). The card
and adaptor would then be clamped together on insertion into a CD player. For ease
of use, such an adaptor may still have projections or other elements for locating
the card 1 in place on the adaptor 7, so that the spindle holes 4 and 16 are aligned
when the assembly is placed into a CD tray.
The invention is not only applicable to CD formats, but may also be
used with CD-R, CD-Audio, CD-ROM, DVD and any other suitable optical data carrier
The present invention (i.e. a data carrier that can be read by optical
and e.g. non-optical data readers through a reduction in thickness of the optical
portion of the card from acceptable standards and through the use of a compensating
adaptor) need not only apply to smart cards, but has applications in relation to
any other suitable data storage, such as for example magnetic data storage, e.g.
on magnetic strips, such as are used for credit and debit cards and the like. In
such cases, other suitable standards may be applicable with other suitable measurements.
Also, in the case of a magnetic strip, the strip is preferably mounted on the opposite
side of the carrier from the side through which the CD portion is read, so that
there is more freedom as to where to place the strip without interfering with the
reading of the CD portion.
Further, the required dimensional constraints illustrated relate to
CD formats, and it will be appreciated that these constraints may vary depending
on the formats used and on the standards applicable, which themselves may vary
It is to be understood that various alterations, additions and/or
modifications may be made to the parts previously described without departing
from the ambit of the present invention.
As an example, it would be possible to use a compensating element
not made from polycarbonate, and having a different refractive index from that
of e.g. the CD data portion 3. In this case, the thickness of the compensating
element may need to be altered to account for this different refractive index.
The CD data portion and/or the compensating element could also be surface treated
to facilitate coupling of the laser beam 8 therethrough, and/or to inhibit reflections,
interference effects and the like.