Counterfeit products are a big problem. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, counterfeit items cost the global economy over $500 billion a year. A 2020 report from the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress declares that counterfeiting is the largest criminal enterprise in the world. The sale of counterfeit and pirated goods, both domestic and international, totals anywhere from $1.7 trillion to $4.5 trillion a year. Those numbers don’t take into account the human, heath, and safety-related costs caused by these illicit products. Fighting back against this seemingly insurmountable force can be intimidating, but one manufacturing company is employing new technologies to ensure authenticity.
Bosch’s ORIGIFY system is a digital authentication solution that allows users to track and verify original products. According to the company, the camera system captures the natural surface of an item and records the unique pattern, which is then used by the verification app. The system is covert, non-invasive, traceable, and works within seconds. Think of it like a fingerprint reader for products.
ORIGIFY is engineered to replace cumbersome physical security features like serial numbers, barcodes, QR codes, RFID tags, and NFCs that can be copied or counterfeited. The verification system can be used on products of all sizes and types and will not interfere with product design and performance.
Bosch’s authentication process is fairly simple. First, a manufacturer registers their product with a camera desk device. Then the user scans the product using the smartphone app, getting verification on the spot. In addition, companies are given insight into this data to monitor for illicit activities or counterfeits.
The use cases for such an advanced technology are limitless. Manufactures can use ORIGIFY to guarantee that replacement parts for an integral machine are authentic, preventing unplanned downtime and lost revenue. Fashion and luxury brands can offer their consumers peace of mind that their latest purchase is authentic and not a cleaver “superfake.” The anti-counterfeit system can even be used to authenticate works of art.
In a recent article for The Guardian, author Dalya Alberge explores how Bosch’s authentication system can be used to help museums and collectors combat theft and forgery. Oliver Steinbis, an art lover and the inventor of ORIGIFY, realized that his invention could be used on painting and sculptures. Even prints that are produced using the same plate or come from the same production run can be uniquely identified and recognized. The technology can also be applied to artworks that have undergone restoration.
The article quoted Michael Daley, who is the director of ArtWatch UK, an independent watchdog for art conservation. Daley said, “The Bosch scheme sounds eminently feasible technically. Every work of art – from drawings and prints to paintings and sculptures – is a manufactured object and no matter how skilfully an intended facsimile might perfectly mimic the optical appearance of a given work of art, it cannot replicate the means by which that work had originally been constructed. Inevitably, at some level of scrutiny, the tell-tale differences of genesis would become apparent.”