An innovative new breakthrough in the labelling industry could be the key to tackling the issue of counterfeit pharmaceutical products in the future.
Mashable reports that scientists in the US have developed a sophisticated film that reveals a detailed image - similar to a watermark - when a person breathes on it.
The University of Michigan is leading the research in this area, having created a template that includes microscopic indentations that are approximately 500 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
These ridges capture moisture when they are exhaled upon, creating the cumulative effect of a picture, with experts demonstrating the possibilities of the technology by incorporating a design of Marilyn Monroe into sample packaging.
Professor Nicholas Kotov, who worked on the project, told Mashable that the idea first came to him when he took an interest in hologram-based security measures used on bags and shoes. However, he noted the new method would be much more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate, due to the complicated nature of the process required to create such images in this way.
"The buyers of authentic items can identify authenticity on-site and immediately. The images can also be integrated in the design of the shoes or other items," he said.
After securing part-funding from the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the next step for the university is to patent the innovation and introduce it to the pharmaceutical sector.
It is estimated by the International Policy Network that the problem of counterfeit drugs is responsible for the deaths of up to 700,000 people in less developed countries every year, where approximately 30 per cent of products on the market are fake.
As a result, developers are continually looking for increasingly sophisticated technology to try to address the issue and save lives.
Posted by Simon Tourle