Chronicled, a Silicon Valley based start-up, has unveiled a new method to verify the authenticity of high-end sneakers. Instead of using labels which can often be copied to a point where it is difficult to easily verify, a smart tag containing a PKI chip hosts an encrypted private key with the public key stored on Ethereum’s blockchain.
Buyers can easily verify authenticity by scanning the tag with their phone, prompting an app download which further allows for registration of the sneakers and their owner’s details. According to a press release:
“The blockchain registration functions as a digital deed of title for… sneaker[s] that cannot be forged, but can be transferred in the event of a sale or trade, proving authenticity and provenance of the sneakers into the secondary market.”
The counterfeit market is estimated at almost $2 trillion worldwide, with 75% of high end sneakers on eBay estimated as fake. The merging of encryption, smart tags and Ethereum’s public blockchain promises to address this problem once and for all as, according to Chronicled, the tags “can not be duplicated” and “are tamperproof”:
“The antenna inside will break if a tag is removed, so a smart tag cannot be removed and then placed on a counterfeit item.”
The technology was showcased last month with Mache Customs, one of the more influential high-end custom sneaker designers, launching a collection equipped with the smart tag in honour of Kanye West and his daughter. More recently, the encrypted smart tag was used in a limited edition from Major, a Washington based sneaker shop, which released “MAJOR Reebok Phase 1 Pro USA” to celebrate today’s Independence Day.
This is one of the first application of blockchain technology that solves a real problem in a unique and previously unavailable method, promising to transform titles, ownership and authentication in a way that is easy to prove and verify, making enforcement of property rights a much more accessible process. George Hallam, External Relations at the Ethereum Foundation, stated:
“The services Chronicled are offering highlight the ever-closing gap between the promise of blockchain technology and its actual utilisation in the real world.”
If the concept takes off in other markets, title registration and authenticity verification may be one of blockchain’s killer apps as any valuable property, from bikes to cars to even gadgets, such as phones or laptops, can be secured by a global and decentralized tamper proof blockchain.
There may, however, be scalability concerns as it would require the capability to handled tens, if not hundreds, of millions of daily transactions, but, unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum developers believe Ethereum’s blockchain can scale to unlimited transactions. Hallam, likewise, was not concerned about any scalability limits, welcoming, instead, the non-currency uses of Ethereum:
“At the Ethereum Foundation, we welcome demonstrations of the versatility and capability of the Ethereum platform and its underlying technology.”
Interest in blockchain technology exploded in 2016 with numerous start-ups, banks, giant tech companies and consortium’s racing to apply this new innovation and bring its currency and non-currency based advantages to the high-street.
As billions pour in, Chronicled may be just the first to solve a real problem by using blockchain’s technology. More may follow, merging a number of new capabilities, from cloud computing, data analytics, wireless sensors, smart contracts and blockchain technology, to bring what some now call a fourth industrial revolution, a term used to describe the connection of physical items, such as smart tags, to the digital, online, world.