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Intelligent Machines

DNA ID

Every year, fake credit cards or pirated products like CDs cost businesses billions of dollars, and some offenders have discovered how to forge the holograms that many companies stick on products to prevent counterfeiting. Taiwan-based Biowell Technology has developed a way to authenticate consumer products, using the stuff that makes every living being one of a kind: DNA. Each of Biowell’s millimeter-wide chips contains unique fragments of synthetic DNA. Manufacturers could embed the chips in their products; Biowell’s proprietary reader sends a current into the chip, which emits a distinct signal caused by its interaction with the DNA. Each product could be matched with a specific type of DNA, and signals from an embedded chip would tell whether a product was authentic. With the vast number of possible sequences, the DNA would be extremely difficult to replicate. Biowell launched the chip in August and will soon ship to its first customer: an undisclosed Brazilian bank.

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