Air Force lab tests e-watermarks

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate announced last week that it has selected Digimarc Corp. to collaborate on a research and development project using digital watermarking to combat fraud and enhance security.

Digital watermarking ensures the security and authenticity of digital photographs by embedding an encrypted image in the photograph, similar to the watermarks used on the redesigned $20, $50 and $100 bills.

The project will explore the use of digital watermarking as a security feature for identifying fraudulent or altered identity documents, said Bruce Davis, chairman and chief executive officer of Digimarc. The contract was awarded earlier this month and is supported by the Air Force's R&D funding, but the Tualatin, Ore.-based company would not provide further financial details.

In cooperation with AFRL, Digimarc will produce sample identification cards and deploy them as part of a security access system at a law enforcement assessment facility in Rome, N.Y., where the AFRL Information Directorate is located. Military, federal government and law enforcement representatives from across the nation visit the facility. Digital watermarking will be used on the cards to combat fraud and enhance security, according to a spokesperson for the company.

Raymond Urtz, director of the AFRL Information Directorate, said there are "broad implications for addressing the problem of document counterfeiting and forgery through digital watermarking technology," and AFRL is looking forward to collaborating with Digimarc on the research project.

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