LaserLock, based in Pennsylvania, USA, has developed a number of light-con- verting pigments for product protection and security document use. Founded in 1999 by Norman Gardner, LaserLock had its first successful technology launches in the gaming industry, pre- venting revenue losses from counterfeit dice and chips. In January 2013, it acquired VerifyMeTM, a biometric verifica- tion company, hired a new management team, and appointed a new board of directors of business, government and non-profit leaders.
The company has several patents, each covering a specific variation on its light-converting materials. It received its first patent in 2002 for RainbowSecureTM(US Patent #6483576), an IR up-converting ink invisible to the human eye which is activated with laser beams tuned to correspond to a unique frequency matching each batch of ink. In January 2004, it received its second patent, for the product it calls SecurDox (US Patent #6,672,718), which enables printing of selective invisible informa- tion with a standard desktop printer.
Later in 2004, a third patent was issued for an applied ink with two levels of security, overt and covert. This prod- uct, called Rub&Secure (US Patent #6,813,011) was designed to help secure supply chains with an overt ele- ment which becomes visible when rubbed with a finger. In 2005, a fourth patent was issued for InkJetSecureTM(US Patent #6861012), a method for coating pigments for use in inkjet printers which can then be used to invisibly mark and track products through proprietary track software. In 2011, a fifth patent was issued for SecureLightTM(US Patent #7939239) for pigments that instantly change colour under both CFL (com- pact fluorescent light) and LED light sources.
In 2013, LaserLock filed four patent applications: one for an enhancement to SecureLight called SecureLight+, that incorporates multiple covert and overt
features into a colour-changing security ink; a second for SequrPaperTM, to protect classified and secure documents from removal or copying; a third for the Characteristic Verification System, the underlying technology behind LaserLock’s combination of security inks and digital technology; and a fourth to allow LaserLock’s customers to simultaneously perform multiple authentication mechanisms on digital devices.
Customised Combination Ink
Paul Donfried, Chief Technology Officer, discussing RainbowSecure says: ‘We have three particular pigments: one that emits green, one that emits red, and one that emits blue. We can actually combine them to formulate an ink for a particular customer or product line’. RainbowSecure can be verified by illu- minating with IR energy so that it is vis- ible to the eye typically with a laser.
‘With cards and dice, the dealers and the pit bulls will have a little IR laser pen and when they want to verify the authenticity of the product, they point the pen at the product to look for the colour we have created for them,’ said Donfried. ‘A laser has the advantage of being a small, compact inspection tool, but the disadvantage of lasers is spatial coherence and spectral coherence of a very small beam, so to read marks or logos or machine-readable marks like a QR Code or GS-1 Datamatrix you need a bigger illuminator. We tend to use IR LED illuminators’.
In contrast to RainbowSecure, SecureLight is overt. According to Donfried, it takes advantage of the unique spectral emission characteristics of fluorescent lighting. ‘If you look at emissions of a fluorescent light, either a compact or a tube like in most offices, there is a discrete, well defined spectral emission, and that emission, particularly the peaks, is quite different from any other light source including LED, halo- gen, incandescent, or sunlight’. SecureLight appears one colour under
fluorescent lighting and another colour under all other light sources. Three colour combinations are available: pink, purple or green under fluorescent light- ing and changing to beige, light green, or grey respectively under other light sources. ‘We are comparing and leverag- ing matched and mismatched narrow spectral bands. The matched bands being the fluorescent spectral emission bands, SecureLight appears to be one colour when it is under a matched spec- tral emission source, and a distinctly dif- ferent colour when under any other spectral emission source,’ added Donfried.
Managing the UUID
LaserLock’s BrandGuard builds upon the multi-characteristic pigments of RainbowSecure along with invisible QR codes to provide item-level serialisation that uniquely authenticates individual items and fully supports track and trace applications. Embedded in the invisible QR code is an encrypted Unique Universal Identifier (UUID). LaserLock provides a cloud service that fully manages UUIDs and the encryption/ decryption process using military-strength, standards-based cryptography to manage, activate, revoke, and terminate codes. This sys- tem can interact with retailer and brand owner product management systems. For high value goods, merchants can reg- ister a consumer at point of sale with the UUID. If the item is stolen, the con- sumer can report it, and with the invisi- ble UUID, original ownership and evi- dence of theft can be established. Even if the thief isn’t caught, returning the item to a warranty centre for service would cause it to be flagged in a data base as stolen, and the manufacturer could refuse to service it and then seize it.
LaserLock plans to continue to inte- grate, improve, and design its technolo- gies so that product manufacturers and their consumers can have a relationship nearly free of middlemen and infringers intent on cheating or harming them.
LaserLock also decided they needed a way to identify the human being per- forming the authentication. For some applications this was for product regis- tration, for other applications this was so that specific information could be relayed back to specific inquirers along the supply chain. This was the reason LaserLock acquired VerifyMe. ‘This now allows us to do very strong authen- tication of human beings using multi- factorial authentication. We authenti- cate people by proving they have their registered smart device, a knowledge factor, and facial recognition,’ said Donfried. ‘We use the built-in camera on smart phones for facial recognition’. This system continues to be marketed as a stand-alone product but ultimately LaserLock plans to integrate it into their brand owner service platform.
As most LaserLock solutions are print-based, the technologies tend to be priced in the fractions of a cent range for even high value items.