By Megan Bozman
Rolex watches, Air Jordan sneakers, Coach purses. We’ve all seen counterfeit products for sale on folding tables in city streets.
Imports of counterfeit and pirated goods are worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year, or around 2.5% of global imports, with many of the proceeds going to organized crime, according to a report by the OECD and the EU’s Intellectual Property Office. Footwear is the most-copied item, though trademarks are infringed even on strawberries and bananas.
I once splurged on a pair of expensive designer jeans. A friend of mine is an OpSec Security employee and told me my jeans contain MicroThread which features micro text and images such as logos or serialization for tracking purposes.
IoT in Fashion
Brands certainly need to work to put a stop to counterfeiting in order protect their brand value. I suppose then it’s a natural development for IoT sensors to be applied in the ongoing battle against fashion fakes.
Chronicled, a Silicon Valley based start-up, does exactly that. The company’s “network of sneaker experts, retail, and brand partners are adding tamper proof Smart Tags to every pair of authentic sneakers. Smart Tags give each sneaker a digital presence on the Internet. Now anyone can verify a sneaker’s authenticity with the tap of a mobile phone.”
All sneakers on the platform can be collected and traded in the app. I had no idea there was a significant market for used, expensive sneakers. High-end custom sneaker designer Mache Customs recently launched a collection equipped with Chronicle smart tag in honor of Kanye West and his daughter.
IoT + Blockchain
Last week Chronicled unveiled a new method to verify the authenticity of sneakers. A smart tag containing a PKI chip hosts an encrypted private key with the public key stored on Ethereum’s blockchain.
“Built on the Ethereum blockchain, the Open Registry stores the identities of physical items, initially consumer goods and collectibles embedded with BLE and NFC microchips. In doing so, a secure, interoperable digital identity is established and new, proximity-based consumer engagement opportunities become possible.”
Blockchain: From Promise to Actual Use
George Hallam, External Relations at the Ethereum Foundation, stated, “The services Chronicled are offering highlight the ever-closing gap between the promise of blockchain technology and its actual utilization in the real world.”
Each smart tag embedded in the shoe functions similarly to a Bitcoin. The blockchain can verify authenticity and tell you everyone who ever owned that pair of sneakers.
Andrew Quentson wrote in Coin Journal, “Chronicled may be just the first to solve a real problem by using blockchain’s technology.” Mr. Quentson posits that blockchain technology may contribute to the fourth industrial revolution.