Prizes for protection

ProteXXion, the identification technology for the forgery-proof authentication of objects and packaging, has won the 100,000 Euro Hermes Award, the technology prize awarded by the Hannover Fair.

ProteXXion, the identification technology for the forgery-proof authentication of objects and packaging, has won the 100,000 Euro Hermes Award, the international technology prize awarded by the Hannover Fair.

ProteXXion provides effective forgery protection without the need for additional marking or tagging by using laser light to unequivocally recognise objects on the basis of their individual surface structure.

Bayer Technology Services (BTS) developed ProteXXion for industrial applications based on laser surface authentication technology invented by Ingenia Technology of the UK.

All previous strategies for identifying counterfeits have been based on overt or covert tagging of the products, but whether watermarks, barcodes, RFID tags, holograms or patterns applied by special printing inks, none of the markings or tags used so far offer 100 percent protection from unauthorised copying or replication.

In collaboration with Ingenia Technology, BTS now offers ProteXXion, a unique process for the identification and avoidance of counterfeit products. The products are automatically registered during production and can be unequivocally verified at any time in the downstream supply chain using mobile readers.

The laser surface authentication technology records and later recognises the individual fingerprint of an object, which is basically its natural surface structure. A special scanning process based on the laser speckle phenomenon records the microscopic surface structure by measuring the laser light diffusely scattered by the surface at various angles relative to the incident beam.

The surface characteristics recorded by the scanner are unique – like a fingerprint or a DNA sequence. Recognition is not impaired by even moderate wear or alteration of the objects. The probability that two objects have the same “fingerprint” is between 1 in 1020 to 1 in 10100. hence the signal recorded by the scanner contains unequivocal information about the identity of the object. Due to their complex structure, the surface characteristics cannot be generated artificially.

All scanned information can be filed in a database and called up in a matter of seconds using search-and-compare software. With each scan requiring only 125 – 750 bytes of storage space, a typical hard drive can hold the data for many millions of products. What is more. with a static scanner capable of registering objects on production lines at speeds of up to 4 m/sec, the use of ProteXXion technology does not adversely impact the speed of a production process. Better yet, only slight modifications to the packaging line are required.

The operating costs of the technology are low since, in contrast to other methods, there are no manufacturing costs associated with the security features. And the technology is suitable for all non-reflecting surfaces such as paper, board, cardboard, plastic and numerous metals.