Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Printer Technology

Xerox Develops New Way to Print Invisible Ink 87

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-fax-says-I'm-the-boss-now dept.
scott3778 writes "Xerox said on Wednesday that its scientists have perfected a new method for printing hidden fluorescent wording using standard digital printing equipment. According to the company, the discovery paves the way for customers and businesses alike to add an additional layer of security to commonly printed materials such as checks, tickets, coupons, and other high-value documents. The hidden fluorescent words and letters show up only under ultraviolet light, said Reiner Eschbach, a research fellow in the Xerox Innovation Group, and the co-inventor of the patented process. What's more, the method for printing them doesn't require the use of special fluorescent inks."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Xerox Develops New Way to Print Invisible Ink

Comments Filter:
  • So what's new? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Threni (635302) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @07:51PM (#19330233)
    http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2005_10.php#00406 3 [eff.org]

    Xerox (and the rest) have been hiding identifying marks in *our* printouts for ages now. It's a good job there's nothing to fear from our democratically elected governments who fight evil and oppression around the world.

  • Miraculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @07:51PM (#19330235) Homepage
    Step 1. Develop a simple document security measure that can be detected using UV light.
    Step 2. Invent a way so that anybody can reproduce the same security measure using readily-available equipment, without special inks.
    Step 3. ???
    Step 4. Profit!

    Oh wait. I guess step 3 would be "start counterfeiting things."
    • even worse (Score:5, Interesting)

      by frovingslosh (582462) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @09:32PM (#19331145)
      From the article:

      Xerox expects that over time, the technology will be used in personalized checks that will have the account holder's signature printed in a fluorescent stripe.

      So they want to print my signature, right on the check, in a form that anyone with a UV light can read (even suggesting it is so the mrechant can verify "my" signature that way). How idiotic! First of all, the last thing that I want is my signature printed on the check so that any thief who gets hold of the checkbook can have a sample of what to practice signing my name like (it would be far better to use computer technology to show authorized bank tellers my segnature seperate from the check, easy enough to do with current computer technology). And worse, in an age where anyone can order checks with any account number on them (or even print them themselves), I hardly want the identity theives to be able to print their version of "my signature" on the checks they print so that they can convince someone accepting the check that it's valid because the signature matches.

      • Re:even worse (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kijori (897770) <ward.jake@gmGIRA ... minus herbivore> on Thursday May 31, 2007 @06:19AM (#19334581)

        And worse, in an age where anyone can order checks with any account number on them (or even print them themselves)
        You've always been able to do this - you can take a piece of paper right now, write your bank information and payment instructions on it, sign and it can be used as a cheque. There was even a case in Britain of a payment order painted on the side of a cow being held to be a valid cheque. Now, I agree with the fact that printing someone's signature on the cheque is an awful idea, but being able to have cheques on any account number is nothing new.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by heatdeath (217147)
      I'm glad to see that this was one of the first posts, because this is exactly what I thought when I saw the article description. :-)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @10:12PM (#19331447)
      Actually, it works like this:

      Step 1:
      Step 2:
      Step 3:
      Step 4: Profit!!!
  • Oh crap.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by mark-t (151149) <`markt' `at' `lynx.bc.ca'> on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @07:55PM (#19330269) Journal
    Counterfeiting Canadian money just got a whole lot easier.
  • If it's invisible, how do you really know its been printed?
  • by adam.dorsey (957024) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @07:58PM (#19330307)
    FTA:
    Xerox expects that over time, the technology will be used in personalized checks that will have the account holder's signature printed in a fluorescent stripe.

    "A merchant could easily compare the fluorescent signature with the actual one to validate the check," said Eschbach.


    Yeah, so someone gets one of these [google.com], what then?

    That's even worse, cause normally someone doesn't have the signature of the account holder if they were to steal/find a check. This will actually give them that, and make the check appear that much more authentic when used ("What do you mean, check fraud? That's your signature, isn't it?").
    • This could also cause problems for people like me who learned to type before learning to write, and thus have writing that is horrible and inconsistant, including my signature. If they rely on this too heavily then my checks could be declined because none of my signatures look anything alike (well, with the exception of my grafiti tag, but I dont think using that for my signature on official documents would be a great idea, as it's a stylized "WD" made to look like a demon).
  • Far freakin' out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @07:59PM (#19330323)
    Ok, if they are really printing UV with a standard CMYK color laser printer then they deserve a patent. That's real innovation at work and not some lame ass '...on the Internet' patent.
    • He and the group realized that most paper manufacturers already inject fluorescent brightening agents in paper to enchance its "whiteness," so they worked to create certain combinations of toner that would allow the paper's fluorescence to shine through when exposed to ultraviolet light,

      i dont understand what they are doing that is new. they rely on the paper for fluorescence. So the printer is normal CMYK, but the paper has to have fluorescent agents in it for it to work... so what exactly is the new tech here?

      • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @08:24PM (#19330549) Homepage Journal
        well...FTFA:
        "He and the group realized that most paper manufacturers already inject fluorescent brightening agents in paper to enchance its "whiteness," so they worked to create certain combinations of toner that would allow the paper's fluorescence to shine through when exposed to ultraviolet light, Eschbach said.

        Subsequently, Xerox developed a font that uses that inherent contrast to essentially "write" hidden fluorescent letters and numbers."


        So they developed either a new toner formula or leveraged existing applications of toner in combination with a font to exploit the existing properties of paper to create a new printing process.

        That is indeed innovation. Just because the solution seems obvious now that it's all be spelled out, it was a stroke of genius to make the connection and take it to practical application. This is the sort of thing patents are made for.
    • by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @08:09PM (#19330425) Homepage
      According to the article, what they're doing is exploiting the fact that most paper has been washed with fluorescent agents to enhance its whiteness, and so will tend to fluoresce somewhat anyway. (It's the same way they make "color safe bleach": It's not bleach. It's fluorescent dye.)

      What they may be doing is using the matte properties of printer toner to dull the fluorescent sheen of most of the paper by applying a difficult-to-detect stochastic pattern over the ostensibly white areas of the printout. The areas that are still completely white will seem to fluoresce compared to the areas that have been colored "eggshell white" by the printer. But that's just a guess.
      • by Vegeta99 (219501)
        Optical brighteners are the fluorescent dye. Color safe bleach is usually just H2O2 (look at a Chlorox 2 label!)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by StikyPad (445176)
        (It's the same way they make "color safe bleach": It's not bleach. It's fluorescent dye.)

        Not quite. There is no chlorine in "color safe bleach," but there are still oxidizers, such as sodium percarbonate, and those are the primary agents of stain removal. The flourescent dyes you're referring to are optical brighteners [wikipedia.org], but those are present in pretty much any laundry detergent made since the 1940s, although I don't think they're present in color safe bleach.
      • by hAckz0r (989977)
        So all I need is my own source of paper? Sounds like a real "secure" way of proving nothing!
    • by Scaba (183684)

      Just wait until they announce their x-ray specs.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @08:02PM (#19330357)
    Particularly:

    Xerox expects that over time, the technology will be used in personalized checks that will have the account holder's signature printed in a fluorescent stripe.

    "A merchant could easily compare the fluorescent signature with the actual one to validate the check," said Eschbach.



    Of course, a thief with a flourescent lamp could easily determine what your signature should look like, and so how does that provide any kind of security? I suppose it provides the same degree of security as the signature on a credit card receipt (which also provides no real security), but that kind of "security", clearly, doesn't require "invisible" ink in the first place.

    • Quite simple, we'll take the DMCA approach - we'll make it a criminal offense to own or sell a UV lamp. That's adding value!
  • by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @08:05PM (#19330383) Homepage
    Here's a pic of it in action:
    • by gardyloo (512791)
      That's cool. I just shone a UV light on that pic, and saw all sorts of blobs of fluorescing areas.

            Hm, then again, this *is* my brother's monitor, and he usually uses it to surf questionable sites late at night...
    • by normuser (1079315) *
      I never thought I would see the day when a goatse pick gets modded +5
    • Here's a pic of it in action:


      Hey, cool! I ran a UV light over my computer and I don't see any words but lots of dots
      and smudges over the monitor, keyboard and mouse.

      What kind of ink does that? I thought UV would only show fluids such as blood and...uhhh.

      ForgetISaidAnythingGotta go! Bye!
  • Hell, ink jet ink is already more expensive per gram than pure heroin, Just imagine how much of a premium the invisible ink refill is going to cost you!

    "Yeah, I'm afraid your Lemon Juice Cartridge was out, so I replaced that. The total bill will be just under $6,000."

  • CMYKL (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @08:27PM (#19330587)
    Printing invisible ink is pretty nifty, but what they don't tell you is that their standard toner will need to switch from CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) to CMYKL (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, lemon juice).
  • Tech Issues (Score:5, Funny)

    by abscissa (136568) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @08:27PM (#19330593)
    How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?
    • Simple (Score:5, Funny)

      by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @08:54PM (#19330817) Journal
      Stuff starts showing up on your printouts!
    • When your printer demands you spend $25 on a UV ink cartridge so you can print a black text letter.
    • by Lithdren (605362)
      Why, with the invisible error message, of course!
    • by JohnStote (846551)
      With careful measurement
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RuBLed (995686)
      You would never run out of invisible ink.
      • by baeksu (715271)

        That's good, cause I don't think they sell refill kits for these yet.

        Hey wait, I've got a killer business idea...

    • That one is easy .... You're always out!
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      I just ask my invisible friend.
    • How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?

      Duh... When you no longer get invisible printing. Check you printouts for invisible printing.
    • by jimicus (737525) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:01AM (#19334139)
      Silly question, but I've got a serious anecdote. Yes, this really happened.

      Back when I was in school (this is circa 1996, we were using HP LaserJet 4L's), a few chaps discovered that they could run the same sheet of paper through a printer more than once.

      They came up with the brilliant idea of printing a picture over the whole page, then running the same sheet of paper through the printer, only this time print out some white text on a white background over it. They expected a result of white text overlaid on the dark picture "because it'll appear like that with the white ink, won't it?".
    • They've been buying those invisible planes for quite a while now...

      "Yes Sir, General Smith. The totally stealthed invisible plane is right over there."
      "No Sir, of course you can't see it. It's invisible."
      "Well, we think that we can produce them for about $2 billion each, Sir."
      "500. No problem. We'll have them ready in three weeks."
  • Like other attempts at security by obscurity, it'll be widely used to "combat terrorism" and then be broken. Us good citizens then have to deal with the crap when it all goes awry. Usual story.

    Vik :v)
  • by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @10:03PM (#19331359) Homepage

    I know its not being a proper member of Slashdot if you RTFA, but the idea of a method of printing invisible markings without ink was quite something. Only when reading TFA did I come across this little gem:

    He and the group realized that most paper manufacturers already inject fluorescent brightening agents in paper to enchance its "whiteness," so they worked to create certain combinations of toner that would allow the paper's fluorescence to shine through when exposed to ultraviolet light, Eschbach said.

    Very very clever, but it relies on the presence of fluorescent brightening agents in the paper (these are those "ultra bright/white" paper brands that they charge a premium for). This means that those of you of a tin-foilish predisposition can make use of paper which does not contain these agents in order to prevent your printer making any invisible markings using this technique. Unfortunately this makes counterfeiting not that much easier, as the process that banknotes use to add invisible markings are different to this.

    It also means that most company paper will not work (I don't know about other people, but where I worked, the paper was usually the cheapest economy stuff you could find, primarily because they used so much of it).

    I can assume that either the premium paper companies are in for a surge in sales from this or all the other brands of paper will start adding these agents and it will become standard. We shall see.

    P.S I think the article meant "enhance", not "enchance".

    • As I read it, they're working with the difference in contrast between the ink and the paper background. You throw a UV light on a paper that's fluorescing blue with shiny yellow dots on it that are primarily reflecting the same color (and adding a little bit of their own fluorescence) and the two components have approximately the same luminosity, and they'll look pretty much invisible - the eye can only do just so much detecting colors in this situation. And the overwhelming blue from the paper will effec
  • All this bullcrap about making paper documents more secure is patently stupid. It printed data on a piece of paper. Almost every computer owner has access to a printer. No matter what physical measures are taken to secure something, the only guaranteed result is that the outlaws will develop ever-better techniques to defeat those measures. If there is any real value in counterfeiting whatever uses this invisible ink, then the criminals bent on exploiting these documents will invest the funds necessary t
  • There was a big fuss about UV visible marks on tickets during the recent UEFA Champions League final. Real tickets had a UV visible mark on them so they could be identified as original tickets. If this technology gets into the hands of the public how could you tell between a real or counterfeit ticket?
  • I saw this technology 2 years ago mated to their docutech print engine, it really make me laugh because it was basically 200,000 inkjet add on to a 300,000 laser printer.... and they mentioned they were having a hard time marketing it and the prototype they had in pasadena disassmbled... i could not understand why....
  • How secure will this printing method be once these printers show up at Kinko's?
  • I'd like all workgroup printers to print the user name, the document name, the printer name, the date and time of printing and the page number (and the total number of pages if this can be precalculated) on (say along the top) of each page output. That way, we could identify who printed the piles of uncollected printout that appear next to our printers. Our users consider printing this visibly an intrusion, and header sheets get separated from the rest of the document (stapling them to the rest of the docum
  • Isn't "hiding" text on a document using invisible inks, just security through obscurity? Once the document forgers realise it's there, they'll simply start printing this additional layer itself. It's about as effective as hiding your extranet web server by changing it's port from port 80 to something else.
  • (1) Remove color cartridge [eff.org] from printer

    (2) Purchase sheaf of non-fluorescent paper -- probably any enviro paper will do

    (3) Stop and release that I rarely print anything, and even more rarely print something that matters

    (4) Return to watching Americans get beat at the French Open
  • If this had been HP, it would have been a new printer at virtually free, and fluorescent ink cartridges at $69.99/ea.

    On a more serious note, since your printers these days secretly rat-you-out by printing subtle identifying information that will let the feds track you down just by inspecting a page you've printed, is this an even more subtle way to implement that "feature"?

  • 83 comments and no "Move along now, nothing to see here" post?

A CONS is an object which cares. -- Bernie Greenberg.

Working...