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Anti-Counterfeit & Authenticity Solutions Using Printed Electronics

September 6, 2021
The global trade of fake and counterfeit goods is a worrying threat for businesses worldwide. According to a report by OECD, in 2019 pirated and counterfeit products amounted to $464 billion and 2.5% of all trade globally. Industries such as luxury footwear, clothing, electronics and pharmaceuticals are among the most affected by counterfeiting costing, posing a real issue for brands and consumers. So, how can printed electronics help solve counterfeiting? And what anti-counterfeiting solutions technology is out there to help tackle the rise of knock off goods? Read on to find out.

What Is The Need For Anti-Counterfeit Solutions?

When a consumer buys a product, they tend to rely on a few signals to ensure a product is authentic, such as:

  • A well-known outlet that stocks the goods
  • Recognisable packaging with a logo
  • Packaging is intact and sealed

However, with the rise of sophisticated counterfeiting operations, it is not always possible to distinguish genuine goods from fake ones using the above signals alone. 

Often replicas will be identical in appearance but may be sold at a lower price, and are likely to be poor-quality. They may even be harmful when it comes to counterfeit medicines. 

Fraudulent pharmaceuticals are particularly difficult to spot - and the only real way to test their true dosage and ingredients is to test their chemical composition in a laboratory. Indeed, the US FDA has issued public warnings to beware of harmful fraudulent Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments as fraudsters prey upon people looking for Covid-19 healthcare solutions.

The cost for businesses is the loss of market share and revenue to counterfeit products, plus degradation of their brand and reputation. While for consumers, the effects can range from wearing poor quality items to unknowingly ingesting harmful substances.

Ynvisible’s Anti-Counterfeiting & Authentication Solutions

The research team at Ynvisible has been working with strategic partners to develop anti-counterfeiting technologies that help to authenticate goods across the entire supply chain. Using printed electrochromic technology, we have solutions that instantly answer questions such as:

  • Is the product real?
  • Has the product been tampered with?
  • Has the product been consumed by the right person? (e.g. drug adherence)

Here are some of the applications our authentication solutions can be used for:

Medical & Pharmaceutical Packaging

There are two issues we can address when it comes to medication:

  1. Is the medicine real?
  2. Is the correct person taking the medicine?

To authenticate that pharmaceuticals are of the correct dosage and chemical composition, pharma companies can apply tamper-proof authentication labels to medication packaging. Our smart labels are extremely thin, lightweight, flexible and robust - meaning they are hard to destroy and add only very minimal weight. They can be printed directly onto the medicine packaging inexpensively. 

The authentication label is composed of an NFC/RFID antenna which activates when scanned by a user with an NFC-enabled smartphone. When the label changes color, for example, the consumer instantly knows that the medicine is genuine. 

According to Mevia, only 50% of people take their medicine as prescribed, making drug adherence a big issue within healthcare. As above, smart labels can be added to medicine packaging that patients interact with to verify they are the right person taking the medicine, and to be prompted to take their next dose.

Medical & Pharmaceutical Packaging

Premium Beverages

The price of premium alcoholic drinks can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and even more for extremely rare alcohols. This makes counterfeiting these consumer products extremely attractive to fraudsters. 

Our anti-counterfeit solution is to apply an intelligent authentication label to the alcohol bottle. This can either be on the label itself or embedded within the cap. So, when buying a premium bottle of whisky, for example, a consumer will be able to scan the label using their smartphone. And if the bottle of whisky is genuine, the label will change to signify that.

Here are some examples of how this could look:

intelligent authentication label for premium beverages

Above you can see how a consumer would scan the label which would authenticate that the alcohol is real.

Premium Consumer Goods & Brands

For consumers buying high-end luxury goods, such as designer clothing, jewellery or fragrances, it can be extremely difficult to know if a product is genuine or fake, especially if the goods are not bought in the brand’s shop directly.

Printed smart cards can be added to product packaging for luxury goods, in a similar shape and size to a credit card. For example, if you buy a premium watch, the authentication card would sit inside the packaging. Consumers can then tap the card with their smartphones to authenticate that the watch is genuine, adding an additional layer of security and peace of mind for consumers.

nfc authentication card for consumer goods and brands

Traceability Throughout the Supply Chain

Another way that these authentication labels can be used is to verify where goods are along the supply chain. The labels or tags can be used for logistics monitoring, providing real-time updates on the whereabouts of shipments moving through the supply chain. This helps brands maintain more control over where their inventory is at any one time, helping to avoid wastage and inventory loss.

Develop The Best Anti-Counterfeit Solution For Your Needs With Us

At Ynvisible, we have helped clients from all over the world develop and manufacture low-cost, low-power, highly-customised printed electronics solutions for a wide range of applications. Our technology uses innovative electrochromic displays that allow us to be highly adaptive to your unique needs. Get in touch with us to discuss how we could work together.

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