[Jane Adams] It’s rare for a conference presentation to draw gasps of amazement from the audience, but Professor Russell Cowburn’s did. Presenting on behalf of Imperial College and Ingenia Technology, he described and demonstrated a system that used laser optics to determine a fingerprint from documents –  basically the biometrics of documents.

He showed that each piece of paper, each piece of cardboard, of plastic
has a unique surface topography. His high speed system, which he demonstrated
live without any errors, could uniquely identify individual documents, with a false
positive rate of around 10 -135 – compare that with human biometrics.
Sadly though, his system doesn’t work on skin.

What it can do though is uniquely identify passports, without any need
for an RFID. It can also show if the passport has been tampered with.
It turns objects like phones into high security tokens without an
evidence that the document or item is protected. And it only needs
between 125-750 bytes to store each record.

Delegates were heard to mutter after the presentation that RFID was no longer needed – perhaps an exaggeration but this system can be used far more effectively for individual items than RFID which is better suited to batches.

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