Interesting article on the BBC about a company that is providing 3D barcode technology to help prevent counterfeit.   They wont be ready until late 2016, luckily we can solve the same problem today.

itrace’s patented 2DMI is capable of being applied to a pill today and is already protecting watches across 17 brands.  It can also be read with standard cameras and imagers, even the iPhone.

3D barcodes target counterfeit drugs and devices

plastic pills with four barcode indentationsImage copyrightBen Whiteside, University of Bradford
Image captionBy adding four precise indentations of different depths, the researchers can create 1.7 million codes

A UK team has developed 3D barcodes that could help tackle counterfeiting of drugs, watches and other devices.

The codes consist of a series of small indentations with precise, slightly different depths, allowing for billions of different combinations.

They are deciphered by a device that “reads” the dents using beams of light.

Because they are made using adjustable pins during the moulding process, a different code could be embedded in – for example – individual pills.

The system was developed by Sofmat Ltd, a small Yorkshire company, in collaboration with engineers at the University of Bradford. The team has now been awarded £250,000 by the government technology body Innovate UK – the final of three stages of funding, intended to see the product through to market readiness.

“In a batch process, you might have a QR code and every single tablet would have the same code on it,” said Sofmat director Dr Phil Harrison, “because when you’re trying to change something that big, it’s very difficult.”

By contrast, his team has concentrated on developing a “sequential marking” system.

plastic pill with four barcode indentationsImage copyrightBen Whiteside, University of Bradford
Image captionThe indentations, seen here in a plastic prototype pill, are less than 0.5mm deep

“Within the mould cavity, there are a number of pins which are each moved by a micro-actuator. By changing the pin heights… you can put a different alphanumeric code on to each tablet.”

With four pins making holes at 36 possible heights, the team can produce 1.7 million codes. Next they want to step up to a six-pin system, with more height variation, which will allow 14 billion variations.

Fraudulent fortune

The global market in counterfeit goods, from medicines to motorbikes, is estimated to be worth $1.8bn (£1.2bn) every year. And that value is forecast to rise steeply in the next few years.

Speaking to journalists at the British Science Festival in Bradford, Dr Harrison said Sofmat worked with pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland to decide on the best way to develop the system commercially.

Because many pills are produced by injection moulding, the 3D barcodes could be incorporated into that process relatively easily.

Then, hospitals or pharmacies could purchase a scanner to verify medications. This will be a “little black box, with a slot the size of a tablet”, Dr Harrison said. His team hopes to have a prototype scanner finished by late 2016.

“The idea is… you put a tablet into it, the tablet’s scanned, then it comes out with a number. If that number corresponds to the number it should have, on the box, it tells you whether or not the tablet is real.”

The team is also looking at applying the codes to metal surfaces, which would be attractive for other well-known Swiss products.

“We are talking to watch manufacturers at the moment, about protecting those,” Dr Harrison said.

wrist watchImage copyrightThinkstock
Image captionFrom pharmaceuticals to watches, the global counterfeit market is worth an estimated $1.8bn annually

Dr Elaine Brown, a senior lecturer in mechanical and process engineering at the University of Bradford, said that tackling counterfeiting was a major concern.

“The dangers of counterfeiting all sorts of products are really, really massive. It’s not just losing the profit of big business; it affects everybody.

“If you are taking some medication, you want to know that it is the real medication, not a copy which could actually harm you.”

The 3D barcode system, Dr Brown added, could also help address the problem in other industries – including food, electronics, medical implants and motor vehicles.

“Anything that uses moulded plastics and composites could integrate this type of barcode technology,” she said.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter

The integration of both iTRACE 2DMI® with TME® creates a full suite of security and visibility applications for today’s supply chain that are easy to deploy and manage. PRESS RELEASE UPDATED: DEC 1, 2021 07:29 PST MASS Group and iTrace partnership LAS VEGAS, December 1, 2021 ( – Manufacturing Automation & Software Systems, Inc. dba […]

CCL Design is pleased to announce a partnership with iTRACE Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of supply chain security applications for anti-grey and anti-counterfeit markets, which will deliver 2DMI® highly secure smartphone authentication capability to its customers. REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. (PRWEB) MAY 04, 2021 CCL Design has over 20 years experience of developing multi-layered brand protection […]

Reproduced from the original article on April 18, 2021 Hallie Forcinio Drug product security requires anti-counterfeiting techniques such as authentication throughout the supply chain. On the Internet, dual-level authentication delivers more secure transactions. A similar multi-level strategy is needed to ensure the pharmaceutical product being dispensed to the consumer is the same one […]

Original article posted on Silicon Angle UPDATED 12:11 EDT / AUGUST 13 2020 BLOCKCHAIN Honeywell partners with iTRACE to embrace blockchain printed labels for supply chain management BY KYT DOTSON Multinational technology conglomerate Honeywell International Inc. today announced that it has partnered with iTRACE Technologies Inc. to build a blockchain distributed ledger platform that will help with complex supply chain […]