XEROX researchers have discovered a method that uses an ordinary printer to insert hologram-like images in common documents.
The company also revealed it was serendipity and proximity that led to the discovery.
Xerox researchers were examining ways to eliminate the problem of uneven glossy patches, called differential gloss, typically considered a defect on a print.
Chu-heng Liu, who works at Xerox’s Wilson Center for Research and Technology, said it occurred to the researchers that the problem could be turned on its head.
By deliberating creating this effect, using a combination of software, halftones and tones, the researchers found they could embed an image that could only be seen by tilting the printed paper and viewing it at an angle, much like a hologram.
The technology, known as Glossmark, is a watermarking technology that creates different levels of gloss within an image.
Glossmark is an image or pattern embedded in an existing image that allows both images to be easily viewed independent of one another.
Similar to traditional watermarks, embedded Glossmarks, which can consist of binary or multi-level images, graphics, text or barcodes, can be observed by the human eye without any special devices cameras, scattering meters or laser scanners. But it cannot be detected or reproduced by conventional scanning or copying.
“Improved printing technologies have it much easier to counterfeit documents,” said Shen-ge Wang, a co-worker at the lab.
“Glossmark prints offer a promising deterrent because the differential gloss cannot be reproduced in a second-generation copy, it is a secure technology.”
A Xerox spokesman said Glossmark had two advantages over holograms and other laminates that are used to create similar effects — the Glossmark process does not require any additional printing steps or incremental costs and it accommodates variable information, such as a name or a time-stamp.
The technology could be used to put authenticating marks on high-value items, such as tickets, IC cards and valuable documents, the researchers said.
The Xerox team is developing Glossmark to work on a variety of printing devices and with an assortment of media, as well as creating associated applications to design and print Glossmark images.