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NEC enhances its Fingerprint of Things authentication technology to handle various industrial products and parts made from a range of materials

- Adopted by Dadway as an anti-counterfeiting measure for Ergobaby products -

Tokyo, September 24, 2015 - NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) today announced the enhancement of its Fingerprint of Things recognition technology, which makes it possible to identify individual products and determine their authenticity based on the fine patterns (or "fingerprints") that appear on the surface of industrial products and parts. In addition to the existing functionality for determining the authenticity of metals, these enhancements enable the recognition of products whose surfaces are composed of a diverse range of materials, such as resins and paint coatings.

This enhanced Fingerprint of Things technology is being adopted by Dadway, Inc. for use with the popular U.S. baby carrier brand Ergobaby, as an anti-counterfeiting measure against counterfeit products. The technology will be employed with products due to be launched in Japan this November through Ergobaby's sole Japanese distributor, Dadway, Inc.

Fingerprint of Things authentication is a technology developed independently by NEC that enables the authenticity of products to be discerned instantaneously, and with a high degree of accuracy, by photographing the unique patterns on the surfaces of products-which are too difficult to distinguish with the human eye-using a smartphone or regular camera and cross-referencing them against pre-registered pattern images.

"We have developed a technology that uniquely extracts and identifies highly-distinguishable characteristics such as gloss luster and pattern shading-together with other aspects like material quality, design and shape-on the surfaces of objects made from a diverse range of materials, including plastic resins and leather," said Shigeki Yamagata, General Manager, Information and Media Processing Laboratories, NEC Corporation. "This technology enables us to determine the authenticity of a variety of products with a high degree of accuracy, without the application of any special tagging or treatments, thereby allowing us to achieve efficient, low-cost anti-imitation countermeasures and brand protection."

An illustrative example of authentication using a strap beltAn illustrative example of authentication using a strap belt

Fingerprint of Things authentication technology has been adopted by Dadway in connection with Ergobaby productsFingerprint of Things authentication technology has been adopted by Dadway in connection with Ergobaby products

The number of forgeries of brand items is increasing every year, and their impact is not only limited to monetary damage to official manufacturers and distributers. Damage to consumers is also escalating into a serious problem, with forgeries spreading from everyday items into fields such as that of safety equipment, where the use of counterfeit items poses a danger of causing accidents that could cost lives. However, the application of tags and special treatments to each and every one of a large volume of products to guarantee brand authenticity entails massive costs and takes time. Discerning the authenticity of products also requires specialist equipment and human expertise. To date, due to factors such as the equipment, human resources and cost aspects involved, there have been limits to the countermeasures that companies could implement in monitoring the world's markets to detect forgeries before they pass into the hands of consumers. With the enhancement of this technology, it will become possible to easily and readily authenticate various products using Fingerprint of Things authentication, and contribute to achieving the realization of safety that spans from product manufacturing to distribution and use by end users.

NEC has developed a technology that extracts highly distinguishable features such as the degree of gloss luster and the presence or absence of gradation/shading in patterns on object surfaces, together with differences in material quality and surface characteristics on various targets, and enables the photography of the "Fingerprints of Things" using a regular camera, such as that of a smartphone. This has made it possible to perform consistent authentication of the "fingerprints" of objects other than metals. Additionally, NEC has developed a characteristic-referencing algorithm that enables more stable and consistent recognition of areas of items that differ. This has made it possible to recognize subjects that were difficult to photograph using the former camera attachment.

Applications for this technology include the following:

  1. Authenticating painted surfaces of machines and equipment (hammered finish paint, etc.)
  2. Authenticating plastic resins such as those used in electrical goods, cases and tags
  3. Authenticating leather products such as bags, purses and wallets
  4. Authenticating fabric textile items such as safety belts and cellphone straps

Starting with the supply of this technology to Dadway, Inc., NEC aims to continue to deploy this technology to a broad range of brands, products and industries. NEC will also continue to support efficient and effective anti-forgery countermeasures for companies and to contribute to achieving safety and peace of mind for manufacturers and consumers alike, by collaborating with anti-counterfeiting activities in various industries/organizations/governments and providing cloud-based services that utilize this technology to determine the authenticity of items throughout global markets.


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