A smart card, chip card, or integrated circuit card is any pocket-sized card with embedded integrated circuits. Smart cards are made of plastic, generally polyvinyl chloride, but sometimes polyethylene terephthalate based polyesters, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or polycarbonate.

Smart cards can provide identity documentation, authentication, data storage, and application processing. Smart cards may provide strong security authentication for single sign-on (SSO) within large organizations. Basically there are two types of Smart Cards. 1. Contact Cards 2. Contact less Cards.

Contact smart cards have a contact area of approximately 1 square centimetre, comprising several gold-plated contact pads. These pads provide electrical connectivity when inserted into a reader, which is used as a communications medium between the smart card and a host (e.g., a computer, a point of sale terminal) or a mobile telephone. Cards do not contain batteries; power is supplied by the card reader.

The ISO/IEC 7810 and ISO/IEC 7816 series of standards define:

physical shape and characteristics
electrical connector positions and shapes
electrical characteristics
communications protocols, including commands sent to and responses from the card
basic functionality
Because the chips in financial cards are the same as those used in subscriber identity modules (SIMs) in mobile phones, programmed differently and embedded in a different piece of PVC, chip manufacturers are building to the more demanding GSM/3G standards. So, for example, although the EMV standard allows a chip card to draw 50 mA from its terminal, cards are normally well below the telephone industry's 6 mA limit. This allows smaller and cheaper financial card terminals.

A second card type is the contactless smart card, in which the card communicates with and is powered by the reader through RF induction technology (at data rates of 106–848 kbit/s). These cards require only proximity to an antenna to communicate. Like smart cards with contacts, contactless cards do not have an internal power source. Instead, they use an inductor to capture some of the incident radio-frequency interrogation signal, rectify it, and use it to power the card's electronics.
Uses of Smart Cards:

Tracking student attendance
As an electronic purse, to pay for items at canteens, vending machines, laundry facilities, etc...
Tracking and monitoring food choices at the canteen, to help the student maintain a healthy diet
Tracking loans from the school library
Access control for admittance to restricted buildings, dormitories, and other facilities. This requirement may be     enforced at all times (such as for a laboratory containing valuable equipment), or just during after-hours periods     (such as for an academic building that is open during class times, but restricted to authorized personnel at night),      depending on security needs.
Access to transportation services

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