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With today’s sophisticated document scanners, color printers and photocopiers, counterfeiters can easily forge all sorts of official paperwork-even money. Researchers at the Palo Alto Research Center have developed a way to protect computer-printed documents from illicit duplication. The system puts a random pattern of bumps and ridges on the rollers that move paper through an ink-jet or laser printer. The rollers emboss the paper with a unique pattern, invisible to copiers and scanners, which is recorded in a database. Anyone needing to authenticate a document would run it through a special device that reads the embossing, then query the database. Inventor Tom Berson says PARC is looking for a company to license and commercialize the technology.

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