Jun 16, 2013

Novay's NFC Passport Reader

At Novay, as part of a project for EIT ICT Labs on Mobile Security & Privacy, we have been working hard on an Android app, based on JMRTD, to demonstrate how passports (and identity cards) and the passport holder can be validated. The first version of our efforts is now available from the Play Store.

Now the underlying ePassport Java library JMRTD was ported to Android almost two years ago in a proof-of-concept app. The new Novay app focuses on two new features. First, it makes the passport reading experience as user friendly as possible. The UI is up to 4.x standards, and has been better thought out. We're looking at showing the information as soon as possible as it comes in over the (awfully slow) NFC connection, while at the same time making sure that the user understands that the document needs to held in proximity to the device for the couple of seconds that it takes to read all of the information.

Second, and more importantly, the new app uses the security mechanisms of the chip embedded in a passport to their full potential. This means that the authenticity of the contents and of the chip are actually checked, and the results are displayed to the user.

We're working on a next version this app in a second phase of this project. We still see plenty of possibilities to improve the usability. 

People at Novay involved are: Peter Ebben, Ruud Kosman, and myself. Thanks to Atlantic Zeiser for providing the sample document that was used in the screenshots above and in the Play Store.