Local company makes dust-sized defense against counterfeits

Tiny Hawaiian-made markers identify and track products

Published  1:59 PM HST Aug 27, 2013

A local innovation company has come up with a dust-sized defense for the huge problem of counterfeiting.

You won't be able to see the new TruTag technology on a product, but they'll be there, full of incredible amounts of information.

"They are smaller than a human hair. We can embed over a million combinations of spectrum data into each tag," said Dr. Hank Wuh, the CEO of SKAI Ventures that makes the trackers.

All that data is useful to combat the growing problem with counterfeits, useful in merchandise from high-end products to expensive medications.
"Counterfeiting is a huge problem, an estimate trillion dollars a year," added Wuh.

TruTags can be used to authenticate a product, or in cases of similar looking medications, show its exact composition.    

Each individual pill can be coated with the tiny data-filled tags, like sprinkles on a doughnut.

A specially designed scanner can then read all the important information written on the tag: where and when a product was manufactured, which batch, and where it was distributed.

The tags are made of silica and approved by the FDA to be eaten.
Which means they can be used to label and track all kinds of food. Which could be especially handy if there is a product recall or outbreaks of food poisoning.

"The authenticity, traceability and safety of food is a huge global issue," said Wuh.

At SKAI Ventures Dole Cannery offices, Wuh said the tiny tags are just one of the innovative ideas they are turning into reality.

"Our goal is to look for ideas from around the world and bring them back to Hawaii and transform these ideas into technology that will have a global impact," states Wuh.

While the high-tech markers aren't in use yet, the first products to feature TruTags will be rolled out later this year. Wuh also plans an announcement over a manufacturing facility in the coming months.

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