T-Mobile claims patent on smartphone authentication

Mobile network company T-Mobile has been awarded a US patent on a technology that it says can protect barcodes – including QR codes – from being faked.

The patent (No. 10,496,909) describes various ways a smartphone camera can be used to detect hidden codes in images which are only displayed if the camera detects a particular ‘signature’, linked to parameters such as “brightness, bit depth, luminance, colour, colour space, intensity/luminosity, hue, tint, saturation, shade, tone, lightness, chromatic signal, grayscale,” etc.

Only when there is match will the phone display a barcode on its screen, or identify a particular barcode selected from among a set. When the systems and methods do not detect a match, they prevent the display of the barcode to deter digital barcode fraud.

The authors of the patent suggest the system could be used to prevent hacking of “airline boarding cards, event tickets…coupons, vouchers for free items, membership cards, secure access cards, and so on.”

A summary of the patent appears below:

Laser light detection and barcode display at mobile phone

Abstract: Systems and methods for utilizing one or more cameras at a mobile device to assist in the implementing anti-counterfeit measures for digital barcodes are disclosed. For example, the systems and methods use a mobile device's front camera to capture photographs (or images) at a certain frequency (e.g., capture a photograph every 0.20 seconds). The systems and methods then scan the captured photograph and retrieve relevant image data (for example, scan image vertically and utilize image data of every fourth pixel). The systems and methods compare certain properties of the retrieved image data with properties of one or more comparison light sources. When the systems and methods detect a match (for example, a match within certain threshold parameters), they identify a barcode among a set of barcodes and display the identified barcode at a display screen of the mobile device.

US Patent No. 10,496,909

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