An ink to baffle cheats

Secret documents are now safe from the threat of being duplicated as a new ink has been developed which disappears when exposed to the bright light of the Copier

Published: Saturday 15 June 1996

RANK Xerox is developing an ink that cannot be photocopied so that secret documents can now be safeguarded even better. The secret ink is being @developed at the company's laboratory in Grenoble, France, in association with scientists from Paris University. The ink incorporates molecules that can change shape and become opaque when exposed to brief flashes of light. Therefore, the flash of a photocopier or a scanner's beam renders the ink briefly invisible, making the document impossible to copy (Rank Xerox Newsletter, fanuary'96).

Rank Xerox intends introducing the ink into office printers so that sensitive documents can never be copied once they are printed. The invention will enable, for instance, publishers protect their work from copyright infringements.

The company is also developing smart-paper', a printing process that incorporates a barcode-like configuration of tiny crescent-shaped marks called glyphs. These can be of any shape or colour, hold up to one megabyte of information per square inch and be read by any printer equipped with the correct driver software.

Glyphs are intended to help automatic document processing. The), can provide information like telling a computer exactly where to look on a questionnaire for ticks, or inform somebody wishing to copy a book or magazine article, who to contact for permission.The technologies are likely to be incorporated with each other such that a person trying to reproduce a document will be told that they do not have clearance and that they should call a given telephone number for more details.

A more updated version of the glyphs - which the company is still working on - will equip it with additional security features. The possibilities opened up by this seem numerous. One can fit this latest one with passwords so that only those supposed to read the glyph, do so. A document may appear normal but with a glyph, it may contain secret information that only the person possessing the password can access. In addition, one can even print a photograph on a pass so that security staff with scanners can identify the genuine owner of a pass.

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