Counterfeit products and corrupt supply chains are a growing problem that could have serious consequences. This applies especially to safety-critical supply chains such as those in the pharmaceutical and food industries. Here are a few numbers: The World Health Organization estimates that over 50% of medicines purchased on illegal websites are counterfeit1. And nearly one in five mobile phones shipped internationally is fake2.
To successfully prevent counterfeit products, two things need to be achieved:
Until now, this has been impossible. While visible and non-visible security features, such as taggants, ensure product authenticity, they cannot be tracked digitally. To allow track and trace features, such as QR codes for example, are used, but can be easily faked. Even though the product can now be identified, safe authentication is not possible. The result: counterfeits can only be detected, but not avoided.
To meet this challenge, we are developing a novel security approach that will link physical objects with a unique digital signature. The new technology uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify unique product features or “fingerprints” and firmly links them to a digital signature. Any unique feature can be used as a fingerprint, such as a chemical signature, DNA or image patterns. The digital signature is securely stored through blockchain technology. This allows easy detection of any attempt to modify the signature providing integrated and secure end to end tracking of the complete supply chain. Businesses and customers will benefit from enhanced certainty.
1 World Health Organization. Growing threat from counterfeit medicines. Available at: https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/4/10-020410/en/ Last accessed November 2018.
2 OECD. One in five mobile phones shipped abroad is fake. Available at: http://www.oecd.org/trade/one-in-five-mobile-phones-shipped-abroad-is-fake.htm Last accessed November 2018.