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Suggested Citation:"Covert Tags." National Research Council. 2004. Summary of the Sensing and Positioning Technology Workshop of the Committee on Nanotechnology for the Intelligence Community: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11032.
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SECURITY TECHNOLOGIES OVERVIEW 3 TOPIC 1: SECURITY TECHNOLOGIES OVERVIEW Two papers on this topic were presented, one by Richard Jotcham, Axess Technologies Ltd., and the other by Michael Kolodny, U.S. Army Research Laboratory. SECURITY TECHNOLOGIES OVERVIEW AND APPLICATIONS Richard Jotcham outlined the various kinds of security tags that are currently used in the commercial world and commented on each. Tags may be added directly to products or be associated with their packaging. The areas discussed were these: • Biometric tags • Covert tags • Forensic level tags • Product characteristic tags • Coding tags • Electronic tags Biometric Tags Biometric identification systems include DNA and fingerprint analysis, iris, hand, and facial recognition, retinal scanning, signature authentication, and speech recognition. All are widely used, although facial recognition technology currently has a high rate of false positives. Covert Tags Examples of covert tags are color-coded plastic particles 20–30 µm on a side distributed throughout a product and gem stones with 10 µm colored spheres inserted between the crystal grains. Another example given was tagging a car by spraying tiny particles containing the vehicle identification number (VIN) all over the underside, to help identify parts that might be later removed and sold by thieves. Many covert tags are read spectroscopically using visible, ultraviolet, or infrared light. For example, documents can be tagged with ultraviolet fluorescent compounds and identified by analyzing the time-resolved fluorescence decay.

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The second activity performed by the NRC for the Intelligence Technology Innovation Center was a workshop to explore how nanotechnology might enable advances in sensing and locating technology. Participants at this workshop focused on tagging, sensing, and tracking applications of interest to the intelligence community. This report presents a summary of that workshop. In includes an overview of security technologies, and discussions of systems, natural chemical/biological tags, passive chemical/biological tags, and radio/radar/optical tags.

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