IP reader

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IP Access Control
IP fingerprint reader
Media type Internet Protocol
Capacity 10000 templates
Developed by Suprema Inc.
Usage fingerprint identification, access control

IP reader is an electronic security device designed to identify users and control entry to or exit from protected areas.


An IP reader has two features that distinguish it from other access control readers:

  1. Unlike basic readers, IP readers do not require control panels and operate independently. A basic reader simply sends card numbers to a panel and does not control an electric lock, door contact or exit button. If the control panel fails, the basic reader stops working. An IP reader has inputs for monitoring a door contact, exit button and a relay for controlling an electric lock. It also has internal memory for storing the database of users, configuration parameters and recording events. Such readers are sometimes referred to as "intelligent readers" or "readers with built-in controllers".
  2. IP readers have an on-board network interface (10/100BaseT Ethernet or Wi-Fi).


The first IP reader was introduced in 1999 by Isonas Security Systems Inc. HID Global, one of the major manufacturers in access control reader and card business, followed the move into network-based security systems only 8 years later, by introduction of the Edge IP reader family in 2007. Biometric reader manufacturers Sagem Securite and Suprema Inc. also added IP readers to their product line-up.

Advantages and disadvantages of IP readers[edit]


  • IP readers eliminate the need for control panels and enclosures.
  • An existing network infrastructure is fully utilized; there is no need to install new communication lines.
  • There are no limitations regarding the number of IP readers (the limit of 32 readers per line is typical for systems using RS-485 communication interface).
  • Special knowledge of installation, termination, grounding and troubleshooting of RS-485 communication lines is not required.
  • Communication with IP readers may be done at the full network speed, which is important if transferring a lot of data (databases with thousands of users, possibly including biometric records).
  • In case of an alarm IP readers may initiate connection to the host PC. This ability is important in large systems as it allows reducing network traffic generated by frequent polling.
  • Simplifies installation of systems consisting of multiple locations separated by large distances. Basic Internet link is sufficient to establish connections to remote locations.
  • Wide selection of standard network equipment is available to provide connectivity in different situations (fiber, wireless, VPN, dual path, PoE)
  • Most IP readers are PoE capable. This feature makes it easy to provide battery backed power to the entire system, including the locks.
  • There is no wasted capacity when using IP readers (i.e. a four-door controller would have 25% unused capacity if it was controlling only three doors).
  • IP reader systems scale easily: there is no need to install new main or sub-controllers.
  • Failure of one IP reader does not affect any other readers in the system.
  • No special hardware is required for building fail-over systems: in case the primary host PC fails, the secondary host PC may start polling IP readers.


  • The system becomes susceptible to network related problems, such as delays in case of heavy traffic and network equipment failures.
  • IP reader and workstations may become accessible to hackers if the network of an organization is not well protected. This threat may be eliminated by physically separating the access control network from the network of the organization. Also most IP readers utilize either Linux platform or proprietary operating systems, which makes them more difficult to hack. Industry standard data encryption is also used.
  • Maximum distance from a hub or a switch to the reader is 100 meters (330 feet) when using copper cabling. Some systems based on simpler reader interfaces (such as iButton) can extend that maximum distance for an additional 100 meters (between the reader contact and the system) Using optical transceivers, distance can be extended for many kilometres/miles.
  • With the exception of fully stand-alone systems that require a connection with a PC only when making changes to the configuration or retrieving the accumulated access log, operation of the system is dependent on the host PC. In case the host PC fails, events from IP readers are not retrieved and functions that require interaction between readers (i.e. anti-passback) stop working. Some readers, however, have peer-to-peer communication option in order to reduce dependency on the host PC.
  • In order to be used in high-security areas IP readers require special input/output modules to eliminate the possibility of intrusion by accessing lock and/or exit button wiring. Not all IP reader manufacturers have such modules available.
  • Being more sophisticated than basic readers IP readers are also more expensive and sensitive, therefore they should not be installed outdoors in areas with harsh weather conditions or high possibility of vandalism.
  • The variety of IP readers in terms of identification technologies and read range is much lower than that of the basic readers.

Impact on the security market[edit]

IP readers have a potential to make a significant impact on the security market if open communication standards existed. Currently most access control systems utilize proprietary communication protocols, which effectively eliminate the freedom of choice: once a decision to install a certain access control system is made, the end-user is locked into buying the same brand of readers, controllers, cards, software and receiving service from the dealer that has exclusive rights to represent that particular brand in the area. Hardware and software of different manufacturers is not compatible.[1]

If open communication standards were supported by access control manufacturers, the IP reader market segment could enjoy the growth similar to IP cameras.[2][3] Having a standard hardware platform would increase interoperability between systems, allow end-users to take advantage of new technologies without the need to replace already installed systems and pave the way towards fully integrated security systems offering superior set of features.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Fickes (2008-07-01). "Access Control Goes Online". SecuritySolutions.com. 
  2. ^ Faisal Kawoosa (2007-08-08). "IP Camera Market to Grow 620% to 14.9 Million Units By 2012". WebWire. 
  3. ^ Security Magazine (2008-02-01). "Next Gen Access Means an 'IP Door'". SecurityMagazine.com.