A smart card is a device that has an embedded integrated circuit chip or better known as an ICC chip. The chip can be either a secure microcontroller, internal memory or a memory chip alone.
Contact cars or contactless cards are the two general categories for smart card technology. With a contact smart card the card is visible and must be able to make a direct contact with the smart card reader. Once contact is made, that is when the data or commands are transmitted.
For contactless smart cards there is no direct contact with the card and reader. Both card and reader will have an antennae and contact is made through radio frequencies. The range is usually one-half to 3 inches for a non battery operated card.