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Holograms: Driving Brand Protection in the Digital Age

10 September 2020

INNOVATION IS hastening the ever-closer digital interaction of security and brand protection holographic devices. As Dr Paul Dunn explains, developments in materials and advanced processes, together with a desire to seek out new applications, ensure that commercial holography continues to feature in the front line 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, thereby making it easier for the trained eye to distinguish the genuine item from the fake.

The growing use of holography is bringing smart phone digital interaction in the brand protection and authentication space 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.

Holography is already finding its way into 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.

Interaction in sharp focus

Recent holographic developments are bringing digital smart phone interaction into sharp focus. For instance, De La Rue has just 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 featuring tamper-proof labels that incorporate serialised QR codes).

Similarly, SmartPack labels from 3DAG provide digital smart phone 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 smart phone, taking the initiative a step further with the development of holographic effects and Smart-HIT covert features that include augmented reality, all using a smart phone. The augmented reality technology reproduces a realistic interactive 3D object on the hologram visualised on the smart phone.

Digital package

Such solutions 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 and grey market monitoring. They can also be used as an integral part of an enhanced and upgraded warranty management scheme and product return programmes to instil 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 (itself 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 designed to support a way of certifying people that have immunity against the virus.

In what’s 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.

Focusing on the GDPR

Other products include OpSec Security’s Opsec CATS (the 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.

Austrian-based Authentic Vision has recently launched a General Data Protection Regulation-compliant holographic fingerprint tamper-proof tag that provides secure authentication of the health status of individuals in exceptional epidemiological situations such as the current Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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

There’s no doubt that the use of well-designed and properly deployed digitalised holographic solutions, as advocated by ISO 12931, enables those with the 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 rendered authentication solution.

Embracing digital interaction

As holography looks likely to find new ways in which to embrace digital interaction, the technology remains undimmed, evidently going from strength-to-strength as an innovative, groundbreaking and highly effective authentication device.

Duly gazing at a vista of new digital opportunity, there’s no reason why holography will not continue to enjoy a bright future.

Dr Paul Dunn is Chair of the International Hologram Manufacturers Association