The JAB code (JAB stands for Just Another Barcode) is a two-dimensional barcode consisting of colored dots. It was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology.
Its colorful appearance sets it apart from its black and white relatives, the QR Code and the Data Matrix Code. By using up to eight colors, it can encrypt three times more data for the same size. It can also be read with a conventional smartphone. More powerful cameras can be used to create a JAB code, in which case the data density can increase eightfold.
Another advantage of the JAB code is that it does not necessarily have to be square or rectangular: It can take almost any shape (e.g. a U-shape, an L-shape). This makes it possible to place the code on an ID card around the passport photo and use it to encrypt biometric data, among other things. As a result, the forgery resistance of these documents increases, as well as their digital signatures. In fact, the security of passports and other documents triggered the development of the JAB code. Its properties also make it a great ally of industrial identification in logistics, the pharmaceutical industry and other areas.
JAB codes take the fight against counterfeiting to the next level
The higher data density of the JAB code makes it possible to store all the information and proof of authenticity of a product in the code itself. The data is digitally signed and encrypted and can be verified offline. This eliminates the need for tools such as links or database references, whose contents could be changed without notice.
JAB codes can also help fight product counterfeiting in fields like the automotive industry or luxury goods by incorporating special chips in the products. The code can be used as of now: the software to create it is open source and available free of charge. In order to facilitate its use in industries that work with monochrome cameras, the code will soon be compatible with grayscale.
The JAB code may soon become an international ISO standard
The German Standardization Agency and the ISO are currently working on a project that would turn the JAB code into an international standard. This process should be completed by 2022.
Further information about the JAB code is provided by the AutoID Industry Association (AIM) in the following video:
Barcodes for counterfeit protection
For counterfeit protection in the production area, the JAB code is not absolutely necessary. A normal Data Matrix code is sufficient for most applications. In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, Data Matrix codes have been a mandatory security feature on packaging for prescription drugs since the introduction of the EU Counterfeit Protection Directive.
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