Researchers have developed a new marking system for combating the menace of counterfeit goods including pirated pharmaceuticals, foodstuff, designer merchandise and artwork.
This system is "the safest in the world" when it comes to clamping down on all types of pirate manufacturing, according to head of the researcher Thomas Just Sorensen, Associate Professor at University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
"The system, which deploys three rare earths among other things, is based on randomness, which makes it unable to be hacked or tampered with," Sorensen said.
The system, detailed in the journal Science Advances, could be on the market in a year, according to the researchers.
The University of Copenhagen has taken out a patent on the marking system and researchers are currently fine-tuning scanning solutions to ready the system for manufacturers.
"We estimate that it will take approximately one year, at which point we will be very close to being able to put a commercial version on the market," Sorensen said.
Researchers estimate that the cost of marking products will be modest, probably not much more than one Danish krone (around Rs 11).
How does the system work?
The system that deploys three rare earths — europium, terbium and dysprosium — among other things, randomly generates a fingerprint for a product.
When, for example, a luxury watch retailer receives an inquiry from a customer who would like to know whether a used watch that they are interested in is genuine or not, the watch fingerprint is scanned.
The scanned image is compared with the watch manufacturer's database and if there is not a 100 percent match, the merchandise can be termed counterfeit.
"As soon as a customer asks that an authorised dealer checks up on a piece of merchandise that was meant to be marked using the system, an expensive wrist watch for example, the dealer can access a manufacturer database to check its authenticity," Sorensen said.
"The probability of two products having the same 'fingerprints' — the same digital key — is so minuscule, that in practice, it can only be described as non-existent," Sorensen added.