Fraud costs the global economy more than $600 billion USD a year. And in some countries, nearly 70 percent of certain life-saving drugs are counterfeit. Complex supply chains (comprised of dozens of suppliers in multiple countries) make it difficult to prevent bad actors from tampering with everything, from paper currency to consumer electronics.
Blockchain technology is emerging as the future of digital transactions, providing confidence, efficiency and transparency in the supply chains. But block chains alone can not guarantee the authenticity of physical goods.
Because of that, IBM Research is launching what they call Crypto Anchor Verifier, a counterfeiting detector supported by a new technology which is part artificial-intelligence software, part Blockchain technology that verifies the identity and authenticity of almost everything through optical images.
Optical characteristics can be measured using light spectrometers, an instrument used to measure properties of light, but they are quite bulky and expensive, limiting their utility.
Use of optical analytics for object identification in real-world circumstances demands a more adaptable tool. IBM Research recently developed a powerful, portable optical analyzer, small enough to use with a cellphone camera.
By combining a software that takes advantage of the computing capabilities of smartphones with an artificial intelligence system developed to identify optical signatures with technical image processing, IBM created the crypto anchor verifier, a technology that can scan a substance or object to capture its optical pattern.
How does it work?
You open an app in your smartphone and take a picture of a product. IBM artificial intelligence determines the characteristics of this particular object, and then compares it to a database contained within a chain of blocks. If founded, you can verify the authenticity of the product.
But for this example to work, a database with the characteristics of the product should have been fed previously. The companies interested in preventing the counterfeiting of their products must feed the database, since the artificial intelligence software needs to have the information of that particular object in order to authenticate it.
Therefore, this technology will ensure a product’s authenticity, from its point of origin to the hands of the customer.
By Jorge Espinosa