Data-embedded plastic promises new level of security

Tuesday, 31 December 2013 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A new way of embedding data into plastic could revolutionise personal security for credit cards, mobile phones and even cars. Engineers at the Warwick Manufacturing Group in the UK have developed the technology with new polymer injection moulding techniques. Credit card fraud and identity theft cost consumers around the world billions of dollars every year. But with ever more sophisticated methods of counterfeiting, come even better methods of security - and engineers at Warwick University in the UK reckon they’ve found what could be the most effective method yet. They’ve discovered a way to put a credit card holder’s data inside the plastic itself - not just on the chip. Gordon Smith has helped lead the research. “What we’re trying to do is to add functionality to the plastic, so rather than just being a piece of plastic component, we’ve found a capability of embedding and manipulating pigments to embed an image into the plastic,” Warwick Manufacturing Group Prof. Smith said. The security of the system stems from the unique way the material, or the pigment, inside the plastic is configured when it’s moulded. The technology is still being trialled, but Smith says it has the potential to hold data as detailed as a fingerprint. That could then be extracted using a scanner and cross referenced with the same information held in a software database. “We’ve realised that once we could make it covert, we could colour the plastic so that the image was hidden, then it became something a lot more special, in that it could look to anti-counterfeiting in that any component then could have a signature of the manufacturer, or the date it was made, or any other data,” Smith said adding that the next stage of the research process will be the addition of colour to the plastic pigments, bringing even more security to the card, than meets the eye.