SmartDisk Corp. has introduced an upgraded version of Smarty, a diskette-shaped device that lets personal computers read smart cards.

The new version comes with extended battery life, addressing the power shortages many users encountered during the product's first two years on the market.

Smarty now works with PC/SC, the standard championed by Microsoft Corp. for smart card interfaces with personal computers, and the OpenCard Framework standard, which is based on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java technology and supported by Visa International.

The product's developers have also increased the speeds at which data can be transferred between card and computer.

Smarty has "become an enabling technology that has promoted the use of smart cards for e-commerce, electronic banking, and other 'new frontier' applications," said Michael S. Battaglia, president and chief executive officer of SmartDisk in Naples, Fla.

A battery has been added to the 3.5-inch, floppy-like transport for smart cards. SmartDisk officials estimated that, with two batteries, Smarty could operate 50% to 80% longer than in the previous generation, when battery changes were required about once a year.

In addition, to save power, Smarty's upgraded version shuts down automatically when there is no activity. It does not need to be removed from the disk drive after use.

"We have learned a lot in the last two years, and hopefully we've provided a very user-friendly solution with the new battery features," said Quresh Sachee, vice president of marketing at SmartDisk.

In conjunction with the new Smarty, SmartDisk is releasing an updated version of its Software Developers Kit, which eases creation of software applications that use the smart card device.

Mr. Sachee said there are now at least 55,000 Smarty units installed worldwide. About 20,000 of them have been issued to Visa platinum card customers in Latin America.

SmartDisk said Smarty, its smart card transport device, will be used in a gambling application.

The devices will be distributed as part of Alliance Gaming Corp.'s remote access verification environment, or RAVE, which handles remote betting on sporting events.

RAVE allows for the verification of a customer's identity and location, to safeguard against unauthorized access.

In Nevada, Alliance has licensed RAVE exclusively to International Sports Wagering Inc., owner of the on-line SportXction betting system. The Nevada State Gaming Control Board has approved RAVE for PC-based race and sports betting within state boundaries.

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