MRZ stands for Machine Readable Zone and refers to the lines of text found at the bottom of passports since the 80s and now increasingly on ID cards too.The ubiquity of Machine Readable Passports (MRP) as a form of identification globally and the standard format of the MRZ makes capturing that data electronically desirable for the security sector.
While individual countries may have other technologies and forms of ID such as RFID and 2D barcode the simplicity and universality of the humble MRZ has meant that its use has and likely will persevere for a long time indeed.
How do you a read a passport MRZ?
The MRZ on a passport is read using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Anyone that has travelled beyond their own country border will have experienced their passport being read multiple times. Whether your passport was held flat on a scanner or swiped it would have been read with OCR technology and the data on your passport captured.
How do go about integrating a scanner into a tablet?
Fortunately the very same company that produces OCR devices for many passport issuing countries makes a variety of OEM modules ready for integration into customised devices. That same company happens to be British. Ultimately the success of this project lies in our ability to rapidly develop custom solutions based on longstanding rugged tablet platforms.
The project brief
The requirement for this initial project was as follows.
- IP65 rugged tablet
- Windows Pro OS
- 7″-10″ screen
- MRZ reader
- FIPS 201 fingerprint scanner
- Docking solution
We chose our 8″ Rugged Windows tablet as a basis for development for this project as we knew we could integrate the MRZ/fingerprint modules into a convenient module bay at the top of the device. This would also provide a convenient and usable location for these modules as the fingerprint scanner would be used by persons facing the operator and this scenario was considered in the design.
We rapidly worked on a design which was approved by the customer. Here are some renders of the design. Please note that we do not charge for work done during the design phase.
A sample was produce in under 6 weeks which is our typical turnaround time for custom projects. Here are some photos of the end result.
This first project with a MRZ reader was a great success and delivered a new solution to the customer quicker than they expected. It has put in motion a new product category with numerous possible function combinations and use scenarios. In particular we have since had enquiries for the following permutations.
- Windows tablet with MRZ + 2D barcode + RFID/NFC reader
- Windows tablet with MRZ + 2D barcode + FIPS 201 fingerprint reader
- Android tablet with MRZ + FIPS 201 fingerprint reader
Because we use the same physical chassis for our 8″ Rugged Android Tablet we can easily crossover our existing design efforts and apply them to the Android iteration of the 8″ tablet pictured above. The final look is identical, just with a varied internal hardware and software platform.