Optical AI Solution Identifies and Authenticates Goods

Published: August 17, 2023

Alitheon has partnered with Peer Ledger to offer a system in which luxury goods, critical parts, or precious metals can be uniquely identified without requiring a tag or printed barcode.

Optical Intelligence AI Technology company Alitheon has teamed up with supply chain company Peer Ledger to offer a solution for authenticity verification and traceability of high value consumer goods, precious metals, or critical equipment. The solution leverages Alitheon’s FeaturePrint technology, along with the MIMOSI Connect platform from Peer Ledger.

The solution is aimed at preventing fraud or other illegal activity related to high value goods from precious metals to luxury goods or critical tools and equipment, says Roei Ganzarski, Alitheon’s CEO.

The MIMOSI Connect platform uses Alitheon’s optical AI technology as well as Peer Ledger’s blockchain software to uniquely identify items and create an immutable record, including related documentation about that item’s manufacture, its subsequent history, and authenticity. The solution is intended to not only prevent counterfeits and gray market diversion of goods, but also to provide traceability as goods are manufactured, managed in the supply chain, or purchased.

Alitheon has been aiming to address challenges that have resulted from, in part, the changing environment of retail sales. As shopping takes place increasingly online, with distributed supply chains, the potential for fraud, errors, or losses increases. One example is gray market sales when legitimate goods are sold through unauthorized channels, which leads to loss of revenue and integrity for the manufacturer or brand. In some cases, it can also be a safety risk, for example, if a medicine has expired and is being resold. Beyond gray market and counterfeit goods, however, is the problem of supply chain, says Ganzarski. “People want to know: ‘Where are my items? Where have they been?’”

Ganzarski points to the example of automotive recalls in which all cars within a specific make and model are called in for repair when in fact only a select number may need to be recalled. Without proper traceability, manufacturers cannot identify which vehicles or other products actually need to be returned or repaired.

One more challenge Alitheon wanted to address was human error based on misidentification. A catastrophic result of human error could be misidentification of a screw used to repair a plane or helicopter, suggests Ganzarski. The wrong component can lead to a failure of the aircraft into which the part is installed.

Unique Identity Without Printers or Tags

Identifying parts and goods is already accomplished with barcodes and UHF or NFC RFID, as well as simply printed or etched serial numbers. However, Alitheon argues that these solutions are all additive – something needs to be added to that product to identify it.

Roei Ganzarski, Alitheon CEO

“To add that [identifier] onto the product is very costly, timely, and complex,” Ganzarski says. In some cases, product or packaging needs to be specially designed to allow space for such an identifier. And while there are ways to use software alone to identify products, virtual and machine learning doesn’t serialize or individually identify items.

Alitheon spent about five years developing its optical AI technology, according to Ganzarski, that would leverage computer technology to not only identify what kind of product an item is, but uniquely and individually identify each product. In other words, the system can assign an ID for each product (e.g., a brake pad) that is produced, no matter how many identical products there are.

For the past 18 months, the company has been marketing its FeaturePrint technology. The system consists of software algorithms that are used with commercial cameras or with an app so that a standard mobile phone camera can be used to create a unique identity.

How it Works

A camera using FeaturePrint can take a single picture of an item, the company says, and the software’s algorithms then identify unique attributes based on a variety of aspects that are different for each item, even when produced at the same time, by the same machine.

Users set up a camera at a key location, such as the finished production line. Each item is photographed, and the data related to that picture is then captured, interpreted, and assigned an ID. This ID can then be linked to other details, such as the batch number, time, and date. With Peer Ledger’s MIMOSI Connect blockchain software, the data is then stored in the cloud and cannot be altered.

When the item is then received at another point in the supply chain, or by the retailers or customers, a standard camera using the app could then be used to photograph the item and link it to the existing data to confirm its authenticity or to provide its history.

“There may be a million identical items. We’ll take one picture of each and later on we can identify each one with nothing more than another picture,” Ganzarski says.

Typically, only a single picture needs to be taken to create an identity. The system can also disregard scratches or damage to the item over time, and the item can still be identified. No photos need to be stored, only the ID, Ganzarski adds. ”Images require a large amount of online storage space, while a digital fingerprint file is only 200 to 400 kilobytes.

In addition, however, users can attach documentation such as a certificate of manufacture, FAA certification, and research information, as well as details about the time and location of production. Companies deploying the system pay a monthly access fee and can share this information with their customers.

Five Business Sectors Leveraging the Technology

Thus far, Alitheon has customers in Europe and North America, and some companies in Asia have recently been adopting the technology.

Users typically fall within five business sectors. One is brands and makers of luxury goods, such as watches, art, or collectibles. In this case, users want to ensure the high value item they are buying is authentic. The brands use the solution to provide authentication and to detect when an item is lost or mis-directed.

The second business application centers around the transportation industry to track the identity and authenticity of parts used in aircraft and vehicles. Users receiving, installing, or maintaining parts can identify the item they are working with using their smartphone to ensure the wrong part is never introduced into the equipment.

Suppliers for the Department of Defense are also using the system to ensure that correct items are being routed directly to war fighters.

A fourth category is pharmaceutical and medical supplies, where the technology is used to ensure that the proper item or medication reaches a patient and has yet not expired. The final business sector is in gold and precious metals, which is highly vulnerable to theft or counterfeiting.

Early adopters include Argor-Hereaus, a gold bar refiner in Switzerland that makes gold bars for national banks, as well as consumers. With the Alitheon technology, the company creates an automated unique ID for each gold bar, and when the gold bar is sold to a customer, he or she uses a phone to authenticate it. The same process can be conducted if the owner of the gold bar then sells it to another buyer. In this instance, the gold bar can be authenticated and can be linked to information about how it was produced to ensure safe gold mining practices or other details. Companies typically will use the solution from Alitheon and Peer Ledger to then offer their own consumer facing app.

Key Takeaways:

  • Optical AI and software platform from Alitheon and Peer Ledger enable users to authenticate and uniquely identify an item with a smartphone camera.
  • The technology is an alternative to RFID or other IoT tags or even barcodes that require an external device to identify an item.