QR codes are not so black and white

Holoptica LLC of Belmont, California (manufacturers of holograms and DNA based security solutions) are pleased announce the opening of their new European office. Based in the United Kingdom, Holoptica (UK) Ltd will complement and offer EMEA support to their manufacturing operations in the USA, Australia and South Africa.

In tandem with their UK operation The Holoptica Group have launched holoQR™, a totally new concept in QR codes for brand protection, product recognition and document security applications.

holoQR™

Fakes of any kind, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, forged documents – you name it, they are there. Hundreds of billions of pounds every year are taken from an unsuspecting public which in good faith buys the status symbol piece of clothing, merchandise or medicine, which at best can be nothing more than a placebo. Statistics and studies are showing it is a growing global problem and affects everyone.

Big and small companies alike can see it on their bottom line. In the USA alone businesses lost to fake goods in 2012 over £45 billion. We can also add the large losses to licensers and licensees in royalties and uncollected taxes by governments. It all adds up to huge numbers.

Counterfeiting is big business. In the fiscal year 2012, the Department of Homeland Security seized counterfeit goods valued at over £750 million at US borders. Unfortunately, we also know these seizures represent only a small percentage of the total market for counterfeit goods. Globally, the trafficking of counterfeit goods is considerably larger, and growing. That growth is driven, in part, by consumer demand. Counterfeiters often prey on consumers’ desire for low prices, but consumers should recognise that there is a real difference between a cheap price and a bargain. Cheap prices offered by counterfeiters often come at a very high cost to others.

So what can we do to make life difficult for the counterfeiters? Educating brand owners and the public in original product overt/covert protection (markings) is a sure way to go. The Government’s role is to educate the public on how currency or documents are protected and what security features the banknote or your ID carries. They do it, so there is no reason why this cannot apply to products as well?

Manufacturers must do the same with their products. Tell us what markings are on your product, on your swing tag or packaging. Show us your advertising, where your Brand Protection Mark is, how it looks and what to look for to when purchasing your original products with confidence.

For many years the originality mark of many products was, and still is, a simple (rarely complex) hologram. Although it is – as everything else – being counterfeited, there is no substitute for a great quality, complex and well originated hologram which includes overt and covert security features. This must be the case because many banknotes, IDs, passports, tax stamps and security documents have such holographic elements to them. But there is one fundamental problem with a hologram. In most cases it is quite hard for anyone to identify and verify if the hologram itself is genuine or fake. There is an answer and a solution – the smartphone.

There are some 3.6 to 4.1 billion mobile phones in the world today and the number is growing. In higher income countries over two-thirds of the population has a smart phone. Let’s use this widely available technology to instantly recognise and verify on-the-spot as fake or genuine. Let’s use smart phones, holograms and clever apps to combat counterfeiting.

Our solution – holographic QR code or holoQR™. Yes, it is a high security hologram (available with electron beam origination, the most sophisticated origination technique available, used for banknote and high-end ID applications) which is instantly verifiable (including the product it is attached to) by just a few clicks on your smart phone screen.

At the heart of the holoQR™ hologram is a holographic QR code. This feature is integral to the hologram and is actually one of the embossed holographic elements. It is not printed, laminated or otherwise added to the hologram, it is the hologram. For additional added protection and security the holoQR™ also contains synthetic DNA and a unique PIN code which is printed or lasered into the hologram. It is not ending here. The rest of the holoQR™ hologram is loaded with other holographic security features, some overt optical, some covert for forensic inspection and verification. These combinations make holoQR™ impossible to replicate.

How does it work and what do you need? It is quite simple. Any smart phone with a camera, free barcode scanning app, Wi-Fi connection and 30 seconds of your time. Scan the holoQR™, enter the PIN and the product is verified as original or exposed as a fake. When original, one more click and the product details are displayed.

So what we have here is very safe, unique, simple and cost effective protection for any product or document, fully verifiable online in real time: Scan – Click – Verify

All components of the holoQR™ system are our proprietary technologies, made in-house. The holoQR™ hologram may be of any design (including bespoke customer specified images), any shape and size with up to 14 combinations of holographic security features. The DNA component is tailor made (in our laboratory) specifically for the customer and is therefore totally unique to them. The verifythisnow.com app (or VTN) is also fully customised to the customer. It not only verifies the product, but also displays the production information. Additionally VTN may also be an asset and tool for marketing, competitions, brand exposure, web traffic, complete ‘track & trace’ and more.

We know it works. Since its introduction in late 2013, more than 20 million products have been protected by the holoQR™ system, with more products and documents being marked every day. Not one counterfeit of the protected products has been reported.

In December 2013 the holoQR™ system was adopted as part of the World Customs Organisation IPM program to intercept as many fakes as possible by customs officers in over 180 countries, a modified (bespoke) VTN app is part of the WCO online system. Any participating company, brand owner, manufacturer, exporter, importer or Government body has the peace-of-mind that customs officers are able to instantly intercept and shipments of that particular product or brand fake. In cooperation with the participating company or brand owner, customs all over the world have so many details of the goods and shipment, that identifying fakes is a quick and decisive process.