Counterfeit goods account for up to 7 percent of world trade, according to Interpol. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a way out but it can be costly. In addition, encryption algorithms can be cracked and the RFID chips can be cloned.
Singular ID's tagging technology is the answer--its metal tags act as fingerprints when embedded in the goods. Singular ID has so far made tags with barcodes, and embedded them in plastic, leather and paper products. Each tag has a unique magnetic signal and can be made tiny (about the width of a strand of human hair).
The tags can also be placed on the same label with RFID chips and read together by scanners. This bridges the security gap in RFID. In addition, the Singapore-based company develops and offers portable scanners that are hooked to personal computers and mobile phones via cables. The information collected from the scans is sent to the database. Singular ID in turn provides the relevant data to its clients in real time or over fixed periods for a monthly subscription fee.
Sanden International (Singapore) is the company's major client.
Singular ID's founders and former research scientists from Singapore's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, Dr Adrian Burden and Dr Peter Moran, have filed two patents. One is granted in Singapore and the other is pending.
The company's creativity in developing new technology to solve a business problem won the company the Breakthrough Award. "Although our system is designed for intuitive ease-of-use, it has required a multi-disciplinary effort to get it to this level of integration, which is testament to the great team that we have working on this technology," said the company's CEO, Adrian Burden.
CEO, Singular ID
Ng Koh Wee, Great Eastern Life's head of information technology and ZDNet Asia's advisor, was impressed with the integrated system. "This product is innovative in its use of a magnetic property to solve a business problem of identifying whether a product is genuine or not, solving the serious problem of counterfeiting.
"Besides this use there are possibly other uses of this technology that can be exploited in the future and the business appears able to exploit them in due course," Ng said.
Burden does see another possible use of Singular ID's technology. For example, to track vaccinations of patients and animals, tags on medicines, tissue samples, doctors and paperwork can be read in real-time, he said.
Singular ID's future innovations look promising--Burden revealed that Bluetooth-ready scanners will replace the current version. The Bluetooth versions will use rechargeable battery technology and have embedded GPRS communication technology. In this scenario, a mobile phone will not be needed during product authentication on the field.
Burden expects offices and application laboratories in the US, UK and China to open from late 2007. Operations in India and Japan will be set up when adoption levels of Singular ID's technology is good, he added.
We believe with our conservative estimates that we should be a profitable high-technology business in three years with revenue of tens of million Singapore dollars," he said. Singular ID has so far received one round of venture capital and angel funding amounting to US$350,000.