HP's Trusted Hardcopy secures paper documents

New technology integrates paper documents with electronic processes by allowing paper to be used as a medium for data transfer

Hewlett-Packard has developed technology at its lab in Bangalore, India, that secures paper documents against fraud and integrates paper documents with electronic processes by allowing paper to be used as a medium for data transfer.

Paper documents will never go away, and this is not unique to India, said S. Ramani, director for science and technology, at HP Labs India on Thursday.

The requirement to authenticate paper documents can hamper the velocity of business, Ramani said. Very often a paper document, like a college transcript or a driving license, has to be sent back to the issuing authority for authentication or to ensure that there has been no change in status after the document was issued, he added.

HP Labs India has instead developed technology it calls Trusted Hardcopy that embeds information contained in the paper document in a 2D (two-dimensional) barcode printed at the back of the paper document. Using software developed by the lab, the barcode can be read by a standard scanner, and the information verified online on a Web site set up by the authority issuing the paper document, or an independent verification agency.

In a pilot program that HP Labs India is running with the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIIT-B) students graduating from the institute were issued transcripts with the barcodes printed on them. “Our software is integrated with the database, so that whenever a mark sheet is printed from the database, the software issues a barcode which is inserted into it,” said K.S.R. Anjaneyulu, department director at the lab.

The certificates issued by IIIT-B can be now scanned and verified for their authenticity on an institute Web site. If the document or the barcode has been tampered with, this will be revealed when it is compared with the document stored on the institute’s database, Ramani said.

Using the 2D barcode also removes the need to manually input the data from paper documents into an electronic system, as the data can be read from the barcode printed on the paper.

“By embedding the information from the paper document in the barcode, we are preventing information in paper documents from getting disconnected from the rest of the system,” Anjaneyulu said. The new technology is effectively “networking the paper world," he added.

The technology can also be used by agencies like the government to issue authenticated documents online. The document with the barcode can be then printed by the person requesting the document, Ramani said.

HP’s business units are interested in commercializing Trusted Hardcopy, Ramani said. HP Labs India is also working on new applications of the technology such as using mobile phones with built-in cameras to take a snap of a barcode, for example on a driver's license, and transmitting the image on the mobile service channel for verification and updating.

As part of HP Labs India's research in the area of pen-based interfaces, the lab has developed a stylus sensitive touch-pad, called the “gesture-based keyboard,” that enables users to enter text in the Devnagri script used in many Indian languages, using a combination of tapping and gestures.