Researchers of US company IBM are working on a mini-computer the size of a salt grain, that – together with the blockchain technology – is supposed to make consumer goods more secure against counterfeiting. The IBM developers have now shared first insights with the public.

The mini-computer was presented at this year’s IBM developer conference Think 2018 as a kind of digital fingerprint that can be embedded in products or parts of products and be connected to a blockchain. By attaching the computer directly to the product, the digital protection provided by the blockchain becomes anchored in the physical world. The mini-computer is one of several protection solutions IBM introduced as so-called crypto-anchors.

Due to the falling production price for mini-computers, IBM sees many potential uses for the technology. However, technical details on how the chip can be tested are not yet known – nor is information regarding which devices are required for testing, nor how original products can be identified as such.

With its crypto-anchor, IBM focuses especially on consumer goods that are heavily affected by counterfeiting. As the mini-computer goes through the supply chain as part of a product, the information stored in the blockchain, such as the origin and content of the product, can be reviewed. In addition, the crypto-anchor can also collect data itself and thus draw attention to manipulation attempts along the supply chain.

Currently, developers at IBM expect to bring the fully developed mini-chip to market in the next 18 months and build a market presence over the next five years. “These technologies pave the way for new solutions that address the safety of food, the authenticity of manufactured components and genetically modified products, the identification of counterfeits and the source of luxury goods,” says Arvind Krishna, IBM’s Head of Research.

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Sources: IBM, blueBit, Securing Industry