HP has developed technology at its Bangalore lab that secures paper documents against fraud and integrates paper documents with electronic processes, by allowing paper to be used as a medium for data transfer.
S Ramani, director science and technology at HP Labs India said that paper documents would never go away, and that the requirement to authenticate them could hamper the velocity of business. Very often a paper document, such as a college transcript or a driving licence, had to be sent back to the issuing authority for authentication or to ensure that there had been no change in status after the document was issued, he added.
HP’s new technology is called Trusted Hardcopy and it embeds information contained in the paper document in a two dimensional (2D) bar code printed at the back of the paper document. Using software developed by the lab, the bar code could be read by a standard scanner, and the information verified online on a website set up by the authority issuing the paper document, or an independent verification agency.
In a pilot programme that HP is running with the International Institute of Information Technology in Bangalore (IIIT-B) students graduating from the institute were issued transcripts with the bar codes printed on them. KSR Anjaneyulu, department director at the lab, explained: “Our software is integrated with the database, so that whenever a mark sheet is printed from the database, the software issues a bar code which is inserted into it.”
The certificates issued by IIIT-B could be now scanned and verified for their authenticity on an institute website. If the document or the bar code had been tampered with, it would be revealed when compared with the document stored on the institute’s database, Ramani said.
Using the 2D bar code also removed the need to manually input the data from paper documents into an electronic system, as the data could be read from the bar code printed on the paper.
“By embedding the information from the paper document in the bar code, we are preventing information in paper documents from getting disconnected from the rest of the system,” Anjaneyulu said, adding that the new technology is effectively “networking the paper world".
The technology could also be used by agencies including the government to issue authenticated documents online. The document with the bar code could be then printed by the person requesting the document.
HP’s business units are interested in commercialising Trusted Hardcopy, Ramani said. HP Labs India is also working on new applications of the technology such as using mobile phones with built in cameras to take a snap of a bar code, for example on a driver's license, and transmitting the image on the mobile service channel for verification and updating.
As part of HP Labs India's research in the area of pen based interfaces, the lab has developed a stylus sensitive touch-pad, called the “gesture based keyboard” that enables users to enter text in the Devnagri script used in many Indian languages, using a combination of tapping and gestures.