Chronicled has teamed up with 3D printing start-up Origin to develop individually-unique security tags for high-value consumer goods.
The tamper-proof tags will be 3D printed around a computer chip and can be produced on demand to match the look and feel of the product it is intended to protect. The on-board chip creates an encrypted, digital identity for each item that Chronicled and Origin claim cannot be forged.
The tags can be produced by Origin in mass production volumes or small batches to suit the brand owner's requirements.
In addition to demonstrating the product's authenticity, customers who scan the tag can view and store the item's profile and interact with the brand owner, retailer and other collectors.
Chronicled was set up in 2014 to tap into the burgeoning market for high-end designer sneakers - thought to be worth $1bn worldwide. The company estimates that around two-thirds of sneakers sold on ecommerce platform such as eBay are fake.
The first commercial application of 3D-printed tag technology came last year when Brooklyn-based sneaker company GREATS launched its Beastmode 2.0 Royale Chukkah (pictured). The tags - developed by Chronicled in collaboration with Identiv Labs - allowed customers to interact with exclusive content as well as other buyers of the product.
The chip identity is also included in an open registry using a blockchain - effectively a digital deed of title - which helps to confirm the sneakers' authenticity when up for resale or trade in the secondary market. Often, sneaker collectors do not wear their shoes and so keep the tags attached.
Later this year, collectors will be able to have their shoes authenticated with Chronicled 3D printed smart tags at sixteen Dunkxchange events. And in December fashion company Dyne is due to launch a new line of clothing that incorporates smart tags that identify their clothing as authentic.
The combination of the chip and blockchain-protected registry provides a high level of protection against counterfeiting, and prevents criminals fooling the system by simply adding their own chips, according to Chronicled.
It is clearly feasible that a counterfeiter could take a genuine tag and fix it to a counterfeit item, but the system makes it harder for fraudsters to make a return on their activity as they would be left with a genuine pair with no tag and no therefore guarantee of authenticity.
"In the past, consumers have had to rely on imperfect solutions when purchasing high-end items," said Chronicled chief executive Ryan Orr.
"Especially online, buyers have had to gamble on the trustworthiness of often anonymous sellers in a world where the quality and preponderance of counterfeit goods is increasing with each passing year."
"These 3D printed smart tags solve that problem by giving each item a unique, unforgeable identity running on a blockchain backend," he added.