Researchers have combined crime research and space-age technology to create an anti-counterfeiting system that they claim is cheap, quick and non destructible.
The researchers from the University of Leicester, UK believe existing solutions are too complex and costly. Consequently they began developing a system that could quickly identify a counterfeit product in the field without the need for special measures to be taken by the manufacturer.
Using a spectrograph originally designed for astronomical research as a starting point the team developed a system that relies on detecting differences in the characteristics of light reflected from printed packaging.
A unique light source is shone on the packaging and the reflection measured. This is matched against a high-precision colour spectrum to validate the legitimacy of the product.
For a counterfeiter to trick the system the colours on every part of the packaging would have to be exactly right, which the researchers believe poses a significant obstacle.
Once a counterfeit product is detected the researchers anticipate analytical tests being performed to confirm the reading. This places the technology as one of multiple layers of security measures, which make it more difficult for a counterfeiter to beat the system.
Development of the technology has been helped by two international companies that have provided counterfeit samples. Further work will be conducted with a pharmaceutical association and the researchers have been encouraged by feedback, describing reactions as “very positive”.
Trials conducted so far have resulted in a 100 per cent success rate in identifying counterfeit products that were impossible to distinguish from the original with the naked eye.