Thursday, March 18, 2010

Using Laser To Fingerprint Paper

I like it when old technologies and known scientific facts are used in a new way that makes them pure genius.

A discovery of old, which will change the future.
Ingenia Technology Limited today launches an exciting breakthrough proprietary technology, developed by Imperial College London and Durham University - the Laser Surface Authentication system (LSA). The LSA system recognises the inherent 'fingerprint' within all materials such as paper, plastic, metal and ceramics.

The LSA system is a whole new approach to security and could prove valuable in the war against terrorism through its ability to make secure the authenticity of passports, ID cards and other documents such as birth certificates.

This technological breakthrough has been masterminded by Professor Russell Cowburn, Professor of Nanotechnology in the Department of Physics at Imperial College London.

Every paper, plastic, metal and ceramic surface is microscopically different and has its own 'fingerprint'. Professor Cowburn's LSA system uses a laser to read this naturally occurring 'fingerprint'. The accuracy of measurement is often greater than that of DNA with a reliability of at least one million trillion.

The inherent 'fingerprint' is impossible to replicate and can be easily read using a low-cost portable laser scanner. This applies to almost all paper and plastic documents, including passports, credit cards and product packaging.
More on the science behind this:
"A unique 'fingerprint' is formed by microscopic surface imperfections on almost all paper documents, plastic cards and product packaging. That is what makes it possible to develop a much cheaper system to combat fraud. This inherent identity code is virtually impossible to modify. It can easily be read using a low-cost portable laser scanner.

"Since all non-reflective surfaces have naturally occurring roughness that is a source of physical randomness, our technology can provide in-built security for a range of objects such as passports, ID and credit cards and pharmaceutical packaging. It can be cheaper and more reliable than current methods such as holograms and security ink.

"Our research team used the optical phenomenon of 'laser speckle' to examine the fine structure of different surfaces using a focused laser.

"We tried the technique on a variety of materials including matt-finish plastic cards, identity cards and coated paperboard packaging. The result was a clear recognition between the samples. This continued even after they were subjected to rough handling, including submersion in water, scorching, scrubbing with an abrasive cleaning pad and being scribbled on with thick black marker.

"The beauty of this system is that we do not need to modify the item being protected in any way with tags, chips or ink - it is as if documents and packaging had their own unique DNA. This makes protection secret, simple to integrate into the manufacturing process and immune to attack.

"It can be applied retrospectively and is no threat to personal privacy."
Look for this at the immigration desk verifying your passport, five years from now.

Gadi Evron,

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Sean Schneyer said...

What happens if the surface gets scratched, or you spill water on it, or normal wear and tear?

Gadi Evron said...

I don't have a clear answer, Sean, but this field has much research performed on these issues and it seems to hold water... no pun intended.

Kurt said...

Actually, the technique for matching is based on an idea called "correlated noise" and is quite resistant to such simple, large scale damage to the surface. In the case of paper, it works even after the paper has been burned, abraded with erasers, and so on. Very cool stuff.

Kurt said...

Hmmm,. I was a bit unclear there. By simple, large scale damage I mean feature shifts on a scale visible to a human eye, like a scratch or normal scrapes. It takes huge numbers of extremely fine grained alterations to alter the scan results enough to prevent a match.

Beth said...

I never thought that laser technology can also be utilized to solve crime and cases of terrorism. Some of the advantages of the latest laser technology are also applied in engineering, design, and film making. In our place, we have many reliable 3D laser scanning services providers which aid individuals in their laser scanning service needs.

It's amazing that the reported reliability of Laser Surface Authentication system which is at least one million trillion, exceeded our expectations with DNA testing.

Rizwan Ali said...

Wonder full and beautiful use full card. Designer are designed this card with good method.
plastic card printing
Custom Gift Cards
Clear Business Cards

Assaf R said...

Quick thought - even if you have a reliable way to verify a piece of paper/plastic, the question is - verify it against what? I believe the vulnerability will shift to the electronic side.

Verification can be done against a bar-code or code stored in RFID (so the attack can be against them). If the verification is against a central database, then the communication and database will be the weaker link.

What do you think?