Remember when we thought that hologram stickers were an effective way to stop the proliferation of counterfeit products? Xerox now believes it has a far superior solution with a new type of printable electronic label that has encrypted memory built right in.
Using technologies licensed from a company called Thinfilm, the labels can contain as much as 36 bits of rewritable memory. That's far less than what even the cheapest flash drive has on board, but still enough to store up to 68 billion points of data including details on where a product has travelled during shipment, unique identifiers like serial numbers, or even information about dosages and refills when used for medications.
The data on the labels can be decoded using a simple wireless reader attached to a smartphone, with or without an internet connection. And for products of a more sensitive nature, like government shipments, Xerox has also developed a version of the memory labels with cryptographic security courtesy of an additional printed code, so that only those with approved hardware can read the data they carry.
It sounds like an almost foolproof method for confirming if a package or product you've received is authentic, but we thought the same thing about those holographic stickers. However, the real security innovation here isn't that the labels can store data. It's the actual data that's being stored, which can be upgraded and improved over time to help prevent it from being duplicated or faked — keeping manufacturers one step ahead of counterfeiters.