Alitheon raises $14.9m for AI-based authentication tech

US machine vision startup Alitheon has raised $14.9m in venture capital funding to help advance the use of an artificial-intelligence based authentication platform.

Called FeaturePrint, startup Alitheon’s system has grown out of research aimed at enabling computers to recognise and perceive the world around them and – according to the company – creates “a new level of transparency, traceability and trust for any object or finished product created by any process on earth.”

The cash injection – from investors including BMW i Ventures, IPD Capital and Shasta Ventures as well as Accenture, Boeing and Fidelity – will be used to expand the use of the platform into new industrial categories. It adds to an $11.6m funding round that closed last November.

The FeaturePrint approach doesn’t rely on marking or tagging with barcodes, QR codes, RFID etc, but instead relies on taking an all-around optical image of an item which captures its unique surface features into a ‘digital fingerprint’ that is registered on the cloud or a local database.

When scanned using a smartphone app, FeaturePrint compares the image data to its database to try to find a match, taking milliseconds to generate a result with a match confidence that is “statistically perfect”, says Bellevue, Washington-based Alitheon.

If the image is in the database, the item is authenticated. If not, the item will be identified as non-authentic, and may be counterfeit, grey market, or not from an authorised production run. The system can also detect if the item has been tampered with, measure wear, and determine the place and time of origin.

Alitheon claims the platform has been used to perform over a million identifications, without a single false positive.

It is focusing on the defence, aerospace, aviation services, automotive, semiconductor, luxury goods, additive manufacturing, pharmaceutical and government sectors.

“Alitheon's ability to identify an item using only the object itself…is groundbreaking,” said Marcus Behrendt, partner at BMW i Ventures.

“FeaturePrint technology has the potential to bring a new level of trust to supply chains that does not currently exist,” he added.

The platform is being demonstrated at the BMW pavilion at the CES 2020 exhibition, running this week in Las Vegas.

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