NEC on Monday unveiled a technology that spots counterfeits by reading microscopic patterns on products. The authentication system compares images snapped with a phone with those in a cloud-based database. Images of the authentic product from the manufacturer would need to be registered beforehand.
The technology can trace the origin of mass-produced offerings by reading so-called "object fingerprints", or three-dimensional surface irregularities, the Japanese firm said.
The accuracy of the system depends on the material in question, but NEC said its tests on bolts yielded an equal error rate (EER) of less than one in 1 million.
The technology could let a customs official, for example, snap a smartphone picture of a specific spot on an object which is then instantly matched. A genuine article can be matched with the time and location where it was produced, NEC said.
The firm plans to release a commercial version of the new technology next year.