Over the next few days I will write about some of the Information Card ideas and products I saw at the Burton Group's Catalyst Conference. The Interopathon demonstrated a whole slew of identity provider, identity selector and relying party products written by all kinds of competitors and collaborators. Pretty much all the big software companies were involved, as were a some smart identity industry startups. The next day, the party continued in the Microsoft hospitality suite – and probably other suites as well.
One of my favorite demonstrations was put together by Gemalto, one of the world's largest manufacturers of smart cards, cell phone SIMS and dongles. They collaborated closely with the CardSpace team on a prototype of CardSpace in which Information Cards and the associated metadata and secret keys are all kept on a smartcard or dongle.
Here's the user experience:
You arrive at a machine, and insert your smart card.
CardSpace asks for a password, and when you enter it, you see your CardSpace cards as usual – except they marterialize from the smart card. The system supports both self-issued and managed cards.
Then, when you remove your smart card, all the CardSpace cards go away.
In other words, the system completely solves the roaming and “kiosk” problem. You take your Information Cards with you, and use them wherever you go. A single smart card can transport a whole set of unrelated cards – the “Fist full of dongles” problem is solved.