December 8, 2014

Beating the product pirates at their own game

How do you know that your favorite football team shirt you bought recently is an original? Were those sport shoes really made by your favorite brand? How do you know — how does a retailer know — if any product on sale was actually manufactured by the company whose name is on the label?

Now, a concept created by PROVA Group, combined with technology from Smartrac, make it possible for manufacturers to authenticate branded goods quickly, easily and cheaply. End users can also check if the branded goods are authentic via a simple smartphone app at time of purchase.

The new solution, which uses embedded Smartrac NFC tags, has been commercialized by the PROVA Group to provide authentication for products in four key branding areas: sports collectibles; sports merchandise; luxury goods; and consumer goods.

PROVA is a mobile and Web technology company pioneering the use of smart chips, smartphones and Cloud-based technologies to deliver solutions that engage fans, collectors and consumers, and protect them from counterfeit goods.

"Gametag is cutting-edge technology that immediately changes the way game balls are authenticated, while also improving quality control of the official college footballs we produce," — Chris Calandro, founder of Big Game USA.

A field-proven solution
A great example of this innovative solution is the Big Game USA football, which is equipped with an embedded NFC-based gametag™. Big Game USA is the premier manufacturer of official Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college game footballs. Its premium leather footballs, from regulation to commemorative, are all handmade at Big Game's facility in Dallas. The company is the largest American-owned football factory and ships more FBS collegiate footballs than any other company in the world.

"Gametag is cutting-edge technology that immediately changes the way game balls are authenticated, while also improving quality control of the official college footballs we produce," said Chris Calandro, founder of Big Game USA. "We love the idea that the life of our footballs can now be tracked and preserved alongside the history of the game."

The embedded gametag, manufactured by Smartrac, can provide a complete historical timeline for each football. All gametag balls have a story of their own, and include product authenticity and history. All information is stored securely in the Cloud from the moment the ball leaves the factory, and can be accessed via a smartphone app.

The authentication process connects smartphones to a secure Cloud database, enabling users to access each football’s history, including manufacture date and location, whether the football was used in practice or a collegiate game, big plays and much more. PROVA will soon release the app for free download in the Google Play store for Android users.

"The days of marking footballs with ankle tape and Sharpies are numbered," said Haroon Alvi, CEO of PROVA. "The concept of smart-chipping footballs leaves no room for error, and is a game-changer for football, its fans and sports memorabilia collectors alike."


Emmitt Smith, PROVA Group chairman and founder, about how Smartrac NFC tags secure products against counterfeiting


Wide adoption of NFC will take the fight to the pirates
Global counterfeiting and product piracy damages may reach a stunning $1.7 trillion in 2015, according to a study by the International Chamber of Commerce. The partnership between Smartrac and PROVA will reduce that amount, by enabling consumers and companies to use NFC tags embedded in brand items to verify their originality via a smartphone app.

The technology allows consumers or collectors to tap a smartphone onto the NFC tagged item to instantly access a rich set of information stored in the Cloud. According to Emmitt Smith, PROVA Group chairman and founder, “We’re trying to protect brands by giving customers information about a product, and a simple process and procedure to access that information. This gives consumers the tools to combat fraudulent activity, and to make an informed buying decision at the point of sale.”

The rapid adoption of NFC technology, especially by mobile phone manufacturers, means that accessing this authentication information will soon be available to millions of smartphone users. “With Apple and Samsung starting to support NFC technology, it’s the perfect time for this partnership, as NFC-enhanced brand items will soon start to influence the whole consumer ecosystem,” said Corey Wilson, Senior Director Global Business Development & Consumer Experience at Smartrac. “We are proud to be able to leverage our industry-leading NFC expertise to ensure our tags and technologies fit seamlessly into collectible and other branded consumer goods.”

PROVA’s proprietary technology delivers the confidence buyers and collectors deserve, with an experience no other solution provides. With Smartrac supplying the NFC tags that will be embedded into branded items, the company’s expertise will ensure that the tags provide a superior read-out quality over the product’s lifetime.

NFC tagging makes product identification easier, and is a quick and easy way to mark branded goods as authentic. Could this reliable, low-cost technology be the answer to the global trade in counterfeit goods?

Want to learn more about NFC? Check out our dedicated NFC for all page.

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