Secure Product Fingerprint
A patented solution to combat counterfeits and connect with customers
Global trade in counterfeit goods has reached alarming proportions and continues to grow. How can companies ensure that only authentic products represent their brand in a market increasingly impacted by counterfeits? The Secure Product Fingerprint solution offers unparalleled protection against counterfeiting. Moreover, it can help to establish a direct connection with the customer, opening doors to new opportunities.
What is the Secure Product Fingerprint?
The Secure Product Fingerprint is a patented solution developed by the Bosch research team in China. Its primary function is to ensure product authenticity. Based on computer vision and AI technologies, it takes a “fingerprint” of a product and stores it in the cloud. This unique “fingerprint” is either an assigned QR code enhanced with micro-features (“Artificial Fingerprint”) or a snapshot of one particular area of a product’s surface (“Natural Fingerprint”). Using a smartphone, customers can then scan the QR code label or the designated area of the product itself and verify the product’s authenticity by comparing it to the sample stored in the cloud. This can be done via a dedicated app, WeChat, or a standard QR code scanner.
In addition, the Secure Product Fingerprint provides track & trace capabilities that help to improve management of distribution and service channels. It also directly connects manufacturer and customer, ensuring better customer relationship management. The manufacturer receives data whenever a product is scanned and can thus track the product through distribution channels to the customer and right through to the warranty service provider. On top of this, the system can push promotional information to the user or redirect them to the manufacturer’s website.
At present, the Secure Product Fingerprint is available in China.
The two components of the Secure Product Fingerprint
Select one or combine both for all-round protection. Use the Artificial Fingerprint on the packaging and the Natural Fingerprint on the product itself.
Artificial Fingerprint: Specially modified QR code
The Artificial Fingerprint builds upon a standard QR code and enhances it with embedded micro-features for added security. While in theory it might be possible to copy an enhanced QR code, this is not economically viable – the cost of the equipment required to do so could exceed a million euros. The Artificial Fingerprint thus resolves the problem of QR codes being easily copied while retaining one of their main benefits: they are cheap to produce. To make use of the Artificial Fingerprint, customers can simply order the enhanced QR code labels, which are pre-registered in the database. These can then be applied to a product and linked to the backend services in the cloud.
Natural Fingerprint: digital image of the product’s unique surface
The Natural Fingerprint uses part of the surface of the product itself for validation purposes. The manufacturing process leaves certain traces on the surface of the product that make each item uniquely distinguishable. These small variations form the basis of the Natural Fingerprint. The Natural Fingerprint can be implemented by specifying which area of the product’s surface should be used for verification and then taking a picture of it. This can be done by installing a camera on the production line. The camera is then set up to automatically take a picture of the designated “fingerprint” area. The image is stored in the cloud and used for comparison later on.
It is recommended that product manufacturers use an industrial camera to ensure high quality images. Cameras meeting the requirements have a resolution of >10 megapixels, industrial lenses, and illumination equipment. We are also happy to provide the hardware if required.
Additional application areas
In addition to ensuring that only authentic products are sold under a company’s brand, the Secure Product Fingerprint can help:
- Trace products through distribution channels to the customer and beyond – including to warranty service providers
- Gain insights into stock volumes, movements of goods, and retailers’ performance
- Track diversions from the designated region of products geared toward specific markets
- Link purchases to the specific customer (subject to a country’s regulations on personal data collection)
- Provide customers with additional incentives or information about the product via a dedicated app or website
- Offer customers easy registration for loyalty and reward programs
- Simplify quality control and recall measures, alerting affected customers of a faulty batch
- Facilitate warranty returns, ensuring that the product is genuine and eligible for return or warranty service