While existing smartcards typically have on-card memories ranging from 8Kbytes to 64Kbytes, Sumo packs seven 32Mbyte flash memories driven by an RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) processor, for a total of 224Mbytes of on-chip storage. With more than 1,000 times more storage than existing cards, Sumo can move smartcards into the mainstream consumer market, according to Michel.
"With that amount of storage, users can download music and video onto a smartcard," he said. "It can help solve the crisis for the music industry caused by free downloads as smart-card technology can also provide digital rights management.
"Smart technology will be found in PDAs, watches and passports," he said. "Already, Hong Kong's smart ID card looks like a one-page passport, with digitised photograph, fingerprints and stored personal data."
Michel said that Gemplus had surveyed the end-user market to see what consumers expected from future smartcards. The survey showed that 75% of consumers expected that smartcards would become an important part of their daily lives. An equally high proportion felt that a smartcard would become the most important item in their wallet.
"Consumers want something secure, easy to use and customised," Michel said. "The cards must be multiapplication, and handle areas such as ID, payment, health information and transport system use."
The list of applications for a lifestyle smartcard include electronic cash, authentication for physical access to buildings and Web access, loyalty programmes, payment systems and personal data, Michel said.
The cost of producing a powerful card like Sumo is still too high for the mass market, at more than $100 (£70) a card, according to Michel. He estimated it will take between one and two years to reduce the cost of producing such a card to the $20 to $30 (£14-£21) price range, when they may become viable for widespread use.
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