What Is an iButton, Anyway?

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Most of TimePilot’s products come with those key-sized things called iButtons. So what is an iButton, anyway?

Technically, an iButton is technically the round stainless steel “container” at the end of your black plastic keyfob. You can drop it, step on it, scratch it or wear it swimming. It’s unaffected by magnetic fields, metal detectors, water and most common chemicals and rugged enough to withstand harsh outdoor environments.

The inside of an iButtonWhat’s in that container? All that’s in there is a tiny electronic chip. But that chip is more powerful than it appears: When you tap your iButton to the iButton probe on your timeclock, the chip transmits its unique serial number to the clock. That serial number is 16 characters long and has 72,057,594,037,927,936 possible combinations.

When you set up your iButtons in the TimePilot software, the name of each employee was linked to the serial number of his or her iButton. That’s how the system knows who you are when you clock in or out.

TimePilot’s clocks use the simplest kind of iButton; there are others that remember data, keep track of time and even keep a record of temperature and humidity.

iButtons are used by a variety of products across the world:

  • Temperature and humidity iButtons are put into boxes of fruit being shipped from Argentina to the U.S. so that suppliers can make sure the fruit was kept at optimum temperature throughout its voyage.
  • University of Texas researchers buried temperature and humidity iButtons in concrete to track the curing process of concrete roads.
  • Ryder Systems, Inc., the truck rental company, mounts iButtons on the sides of its trucks. Each iButton contains information about that truck.
  • TimePilot sells door locks that use iButtons as keys—the same iButtons that are you use to clock in and out. Because each iButton is different, these locks can be programmed to allow certain people in and keep others locked out. Some lock models even keep track of who used the lock and when they used it. Want to know about TimePilot’s locks? Visit www.CrossOverLocks.com.