Product fraud has always been a big issue in the luxury goods markets, however it is now being increasingly seen in electronics and traditional manufacturing. To help identify fraudulent items, iTRACE has developed a unique marking system which can be used on any material. This technology is uniquely encrypted to make it impossible to replicate, meaning fraudulent sales will soon be a thing of the past.
We spoke to Mark Manning, CEO of iTRACE about developing his unique technology and how he worked with Lumenera, experts in imaging, to develop the solution.
How does iTRACE’s 2DMI technology work?
Our 2DMI technology helps companies prevent their product from entering the Grey Market, prevents production overrun from outsourced manufacturing and prevents warranty return fraud and liability by the easy identification of counterfeits.
As one of the new 3rd Generation (3G) group of brand protection technologies (see here for more information) we work by delivering a proprietary and secure, 2 Factor Product Authentication (2FA), that protects the product itself, not just the packaging.
What are the advantages of using a 2DMI marking system over conventional labelling?
iTRACE 2DMI technology can be applied both covertly and overtly to a component, assembly or finished product, using existing production equipment, such as lasers and printers, with little to no additional cost to the manufacturer. Whereas conventional labels and RFID tags are expensive and also easily removed, altered or replaced to obscure the origin of the product.
2DMI allows the brand to uniquely identify and authenticate the product regardless of what happens to the products packaging and labels. Being a proprietary solution, only the brand that applies the technology has the ability to read the information with their own unique encryption key. This prevents mass replication and the other types of fraud associated with traditional 2D symbologies.
What products is 2DMI marking commonly used on?
2DMI has traditionally been used by the watch and luxury goods industries, and is now being adopted by the industrial electronics industry to protect high value items, such as circuit breakers for homes and offices.
As long as the material can hold the mark on a solid surface, we can apply a mark to that surface. We use standard industrial laser equipment meaning that we can be applied to anything - including ceramics, plastics, steels, carbon fiber, and even rubber. We've even marked crystal glass, and one of our laser partners are able to mark diamond.
Can this technology also be used on non-consumer products? For example, such as those used in industry?
2DMI can be applied to almost any product or surface including consumer packaged goods, medical devices, automotive and industrial equipment.
We have found that when you dig into the manufacturing processes of both watches and industrial components, such as electronics and automotive parts, there are a lot of similarities in their production. There is a lot of hand-assembly and the components are made of similar materials, and the pieces are of high value.
These similarities also spill over into how the products are distributed, and also the kinds of fraud that those kind of products are subject to. It was a very easy transition for us to go from the watch industry into the industrial space due to the huge similarities in manufacturing between them.
Industrial parts can be protected using 2DMI technology. Image Credits: shutterstock.com/Steve Mann
How are 2DMI markings identified?
The marks are identified using standard vision systems and cameras that are used every day, including cameras from Lumenera and mobile devices such as iPhone and Android.
What camera features are important for them to be used for this purpose?
The basic image requirements for iTRACE 2DMI are fairly simple, but advances in machine vision have greatly improved speeds and capabilities of the cameras. In our applications we need reliability and continued support of the software across all models in the manufacturers imager range. Lumenera gives us that support.
Lumenera's cameras in combination with our software allows the user to identify our codes and decode the secure information that's embedded in them.
Right now we've just been purchasing Lumenera's cameras, and they've been very helpful in determining which camera specification we need for each of our applications. We're not quite at the stage where we can use them to help develop our applications yet, but we know they will be there to help when we are at the point.
Image Credits: shutterstock.com/Rudenkois
Why did iTRACE decide to work with Lumenera?
We have worked with Lumenera for many years and their reliability across all of our applications has shown that they were the right choice.
The ability to integrate directly with our software was one of the important things that made us first reach out to them. Lumenera provides a very comprehensive software development kit that allows us to manipulate all of the features of the camera through its interface. Things like the contrast and colour, the brightness, when the camera is told to trigger, these can all be controlled directly through the interface on the SDK. The cameras have so many features in them that they are very flexible when built into different applications.
How did Lumenera assist iTRACE in choosing the most appropriate camera for the 2DMI system?
Lumenera had many cameras to chose from and we opted for simplicity to start with knowing that we could always add to the capabilities as our technology needs evolved.
iTRACE use a Lu105 camera from Lumenera
How are iTRACE planning on incorporating Lumenera’s machine vision technology into your future ID systems?
Machine vision is always very important to us. As our customers demand greater capabilities from our technology, we’ll be working with Lumenera to help us support these applications by delivering more advanced machine vision capabilities to our software.
Where can our readers find out more about 2DMI and Lumenera?
We have a number of excellent case studies online that highlight the success we’ve had helping brands like Fossil secure their distribution and retail partners. You can also find out more about our work with Lumenera by downloading the case study using the link below.
Download the Case Study for More Information
About Mark Manning
Mark Manning is the Founder and CEO of iTRACE Technologies a Silicon Valley startup company specializing in anti-diversion and anti-counterfeit technologies. Prior to iTRACE Mark was Senior VP of Operations at Vorstack Corporation a company specializing in developing Cyber Security tools for early threat detection.
From 2010 until October 2013 Mark was the Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of DODOcase, Inc., a manufacturer of hand crafted cases for Apple’s iPad and other tablet devices, where he was instrumental in growing the business from 3 people in a living room to over 30 people in a 10,000 sq foot San Francisco based manufacturing facility. DODOcases were extremely popular, with many celebrity customers including the 44th President of The United States.
Mark is a serial entrepreneur, having started or been involved in founding multiple companies since arriving in California, including, AR Navigation Supplies, ORBID Corporation and in 2010 he graduated from the Silicon Valley Founder Institute with a company called Heirloom Vault. As an adventure racer Mark opened his own e-commerce store, developing a line of proprietary navigation tools and writing two books on map and compass navigation.
Mark studied Engineering and Telecommunications at STC London England before moving to the United States in 1993 and becoming a US Citizen in 2004. Mark currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area where he is a former Semester Director and frequent mentor at the Silicon Valley Founder Institute. Outside of the office Mark’s passions include motorsports and competitive cycling.
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