Dr Paul Dunn

Innovative developments in materials and advanced processes, together with a desire to seek out new applications, ensure commercial holography continues to feature in the frontline fight against counterfeiting, identity theft and brand piracy.

Indeed, it’s the technology’s capacity to secure data and combat the effects of criminal interference, tampering, alteration, forgery or imitation that remains priceless.

Moreover, holography is not solely present to prevent counterfeits, but to also act as a physical detection device; making it easier for the trained eye to distinguish the genuine item from the fake.

The growing use of holography is bringing smartphone digital interaction in the brand protection and authentication space ever closer as the technology finds new outlets and applications for its benefits.

This will see continued expansion as increasing numbers of organisations around the world adopt the advantages on offer and invest in purchasing digital-based interactive solutions for their products as they look to protect themselves from piracy and counterfeiters.

Today, we can see holography is already finding its way to ever more sophisticated applications in medical and pharmaceutical imaging, data encryption, transmission and storage systems, as well as continuing to drive improvements in the security of everyday consumer products, banknotes and bankcards.

Recent holographic developments are bringing digital smartphone interaction into sharp focus.

For instance, De La Rue expanded its brand protection holographic brand protection portfolio with the launch of PURE™ labels, a range of surface relief holographic labels that compliment IZON™ – the holographic photopolymer label series that are tamper-proof labels incorporating serialised QR codes.

De La Rue PURE: Quartz label
De La Rue PURE: Zircon label

Similarly, SmartPack labels from 3DAG provide digital smartphone holographic tamper-proof labels with serialised QR codes.

Krypten, which is based in Russia, has developed a range of brand protection labels that can interact with a smartphone, taking the initiative a step further with the development of holographic effects and Smart-HIT™ covert features that include augmented reality (AR), using a smartphone.

The AR technology reproduces a realistic interactive 3D object on the hologram visualised on the smartphone.

An example of Krypten’s augmented reality Dragon’s Arch hologram revealing a 3D dragon on a smartphone

Digital package
They provide all the advantages of physical and product protection qualities brands require with tamper-proof evidence in a single, easy-to-apply digital package for authentication, supply chain track and trace, grey market monitoring.

They can also be used as an integral part of an enhanced, upgraded warranty management scheme and product return programmes to instill greater consumer confidence.

Offering a high level of counterfeit resistance, the new generation of digital enhanced optical features, which incorporate holographic effects and offer overt, covert and forensic features, herald a step-change in areas in the secure document industry and other areas in the coming few years.

For instance, OpSec Security’s Lustre – a new proprietary technology – can be changed by wavelengths/intensities of light, altering the liquid crystal molecules and the colour they reflect.

Holographic applications that bring digital interaction a step closer are also set to play a critical role in tackling the current COVID-19 pandemic and other global threats.

For instance, De La Rue is looking at authentication technology to support a way of certifying people that have immunity against the virus.

In an interesting development the company is considering its track and trace products to link a COVID-19 test result or vaccination, which carries a unique identifier, with a code on a government grade holographic smart label.

This can be attached to a person’s passport or other identity document and then be verified by, for example, passport control officials using a simple smartphone app.

Other products include OpSec Security’s, Opsec CATS™ (COVID Authentication and Traceability Solution) that incorporates holographic and other anti-counterfeiting technologies such as OpSec SecureITT authentication labels, OpSec InSight® supply chain management software and OpSec Online e-commerce protection.

An example of OpSec SecureITT holographic authentication labels and incorporated security features

Austrian based Authentic Vision’s also launched a GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant holographic fingerprint health tamper-proof tag that provides secure authentication of the health status of individuals in exceptional epidemiological situations such as the current coronavirus pandemic.

Verification
The great advantage of this type of holographic application is that it can be deployed quickly depending on the government and healthcare systems in place while also helping to protect supply chains that have been under threat or exposed as coronavirus has swept the globe.

There’s no doubt that the use of well-designed and properly deployed digitalised holographic solutions, as advocated by the ISO12931 standard, enables those with responsibility for law enforcement and security across borders to verify the authenticity of a legitimate product, differentiating it from fake products coming from counterfeiting hot spots around the world.

Even those that carry a “fake” authentication feature can be distinguished from the genuine item if that item carries a carefully thought-out authentication solution.

It remains appropriate that as holography looks likely to find new ways to embrace digital interaction forward, the technology remains undimmed, evidently going from strength-to-strength as an innovative, ground-breaking and highly effective authentication device.

And, as it gazes at a vista of new digital opportunity, there’s no reason why it will not continue to enjoy a bright future.

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr Paul Dunn is chairman of the International Hologram Manufacturers Association. He has been involved in the optical security industry for more than 30 years with an array of experience in teaching and technology development, and is currently Director of Technology Innovation at OpSec Security Ltd.

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