Systech e-Fingerprint®, Barcode Authentication FAQs

On November 12, Systech hosted the webinar Connected Packaging for Pharma—from Brand Protection to Consumer Insight.

During the webinar, our robust audience participated in peer benchmark polls and asked a number of questions.  

Many of these questions related to Systech’s e-Fingerprint and how barcode authentication works. We realized many people beyond this webinar audience have the same questions, so we decided to capture these FAQs in a blog post.  We’ll start with the poll results.

Peer Benchmarks

Below are the results from our pharma audience poll. 

Do you currently have (or are already planning) a consumer-centric engagement program?

75% – No
25% – Yes

Do you believe consumer engagement can be an important aspect of your patient outreach program?

93% – Yes
7% – No

Not including serialization, what kind of brand protection technology have you deployed today?

41% – Analog (e.g. holograms, security inks or seals)
14% – Digital (e.g. fingerprint, RFID/NFC)
38% – None
7% – Other (e.g. forensic – DNA tag, nanotag)


Systech e-Fingerprint and barcode authentication Q&A

Following are answers to the viewer-submitted questions.

Does the UniSecure solution include the mobile app technology? If so, is it a Brand-specific app or is there one UniSecure app that could authenticate all Brands using the system?

The solution comes complete with UniSecure Mobile, a ready-to-use authentication and interaction smartphone application. The solution also comes with a Software Development Kit (SDK) where the authentication process can be integrated into a brand’s existing mobile application.

What is the sensitivity and accuracy of the barcode fingerprint technology with a mobile phone camera?

UniSecure’s mobile capabilities are directly tied to the mobile phone camera. We aren’t just scanning a barcode, we are actually imaging a picture of the barcode for processing and matching to its e-Fingerprint in the UniSecure Cloud. The smartphone cameras of today are more than sufficient for this job. The sensitivity is only slightly more than you would expect from a handheld device scanning a barcode, again as you are imaging a picture of a barcode, not just reading it.

Which area of the Supply Chain, other than manufacturing is most compliant? What area is least compliant? i.e. Distributors, 3PL Providers, Retail, other?

It can be considered a “trickle-down effect” or perhaps knocking down a series of dominoes to compliance. In the USA, the whole supply chain needs to be fully DSCSA compliant by 2023. Manufacturers are clearly the “most” ready. The major distributors are on-track to be ready. Both are not completely ready for saleable returns verification enforcement in 2020. As you get closer to the consumer/patient, compliance readiness is not as strong. Retail/pharmacy will get there—and are getting there—but are behind the rest of the industry.

How do you prevent false negative? Especially when a consumer handles the package and introduces some sort of artifact on the barcode.

The nature of our capture and creation of the e-Fingerprint creates a large amount of information for us to use to authenticate the item. We can handle a significant amount of damage/marking and still get enough information from the barcode to authenticate its e-Fingerprint in the cloud.

Most importantly, the solution has been engineered and proven to never issue a false positive.

Are there limitations to how big the barcode
has to be?

We work with standard 2D serialized DataMatrix codes as well as UPC, QR Codes and other data carriers. Most standard package barcodes are well within our sizing requirements. There are technical minimum and maximum sizes, but package barcodes we encounter are rarely outside our support.

What if there is damage (from handling, shipping, etc.) to the barcode like a scuff? 

As mentioned, the solution can handle damage to the barcode, and still have enough information to authenticate the item.

How many clients do you have?

As a private company we do not disclose customer counts. However, we are the market leader in pharmaceutical serialization, implemented on thousands of packaging lines, and responsible for billions of serialized products globally.

All pharma product or all packaged products?

The market data reviewed in the session showing consumers interested in performing authentication tasks was a mixed industry audience, which also included pharma customers.

Will labeling technology/quality ever surpass consumer smartphone camera technology?

Believe it or not, the better the quality of the barcode on the label, the better the quality of the e-Fingerprint that is created, and the ability for the smartphone to authenticate.

Is this technology (e-fingerprint) working with a CMO which is not using Systech technology?

Absolutely! A serialized barcode is just a barcode, regardless if Systech serialization solutions are responsible or another serialization vendor.

An idea of costs?

As a non-additive solution, ours is a fraction of the cost of typical brand protection add-ons like foils and seals. Our solution is far less complex to implement than certain inks and forensic measures.

If during the initial scanning a dust particle is in the barcode. The particle then falls off the bar code. Will the scan still authenticate at the consumer level?

Again, a small particle present during e-Fingerprint creation will have little to no impact on the authentication readability of a barcode.

Can you compare your product to the Digimarc Barcode....watermark?

The Digimarc barcode is invisibly repeating the barcode information across the packaging, facilitating easier checkout and overall ease of scanning an item at any supply chain stage. It is, however, a static barcode that is replicated across all the products of its type. It is not uniquely identifying the item like the Systech e-Fingerprint.  The Digimarc barcode can have QR code-like abilities, such as redirecting to a website. The e-Fingerprint transforms a barcode and package into a connected device, offering truly interactive capabilities with the item. Finally, the Digimarc barcode requires special dedicated readers and cannot be read by consumer-class smartphones.