Magazine Article | April 1, 2005

Create Image Identity

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

New digital watermarking technologies add layers of security and control to your document images.

Integrated Solutions, April 2005
Fingerprints are nature's way of providing each human being with their own unique identifier. These biological codes can link us to crime scenes and help find missing children, but most importantly, they prove we are who we say we are.

Perhaps you've avoided adopting imaging technologies for certain document processes because of a lack of a similar authentication feature. For example, documents related to mergers, acquisitions, and other important financial exchanges have yet to be widely digitized because of the sensitive information these documents contain. For these types of transactions, it is imperative to ensure that the documents being processed are the originals and the information has been unaltered. Traditionally, paper (complete with the proper stamps and signatures) has been the only way to achieve this level of assurance. However, at Kodak Breakaway 2005, I attended a presentation by Andrew Lawrence, Kodak's worldwide product marketing manager, and got a first-hand look at digital watermarking. This technology promises to usher in new levels of security and control for document images.

With digital watermarking, a pictorial record of a document is taken the moment a document is scanned and an invisible, unique watermark (usually some type of coded data) is embedded in the image -- marking it as the original. If unauthorized copies or changes are made to an image, the coded data will not be transferred to the new image, or the watermark will be altered in some way. A quick data scan of the image can reveal this type of tampering. By embedding new, distinct watermarks at different stages in the document flow, the technology can also reveal what processes touched your images, what was done to them, and by whom.

Digital watermarking technologies are still in their infancy, and some kinks are still being worked out. For this reason, few customer case examples exist where watermarking has been deployed extensively. However, this technology can have a profound affect on your enterprise, and being an early adopter can give you a clear competitive advantage.

First of all, digital watermarking will help you experience the benefits of document imaging at all levels of your organization. By managing document images instead of paper, you can reduce your approval cycles by hours or even days because lost or misplaced files will no longer impede your review processes. Document imaging can also improve your cash flow because you eliminate the time required to physically present an invoice or other financial document.

Digital watermarking also further facilitates distributed scanning and capture, allowing you to open virtual branch offices wherever you can place a workstation and a scanner on the World Wide Web. Images can be exchanged freely within your own organization and with other businesses, without compromising security or information integrity. In this way, digital watermarking can help you expand your reach and globalize your business. This alone provides enough incentive to explore the technology further. To learn more about what this technology can mean to the security of your images, contact early developers of digital watermark solutions such as Kodak, Canon, and Digimarc.