According to the company, the discovery paves the way for customers and businesses alike to add an additional layer of security to commonly printed materials such as checks, tickets, coupons, and other high-value documents. The hidden fluorescent words and letters show up only under ultraviolet light, said Reiner Eschbach, a research fellow in the Xerox Innovation Group, and the co-inventor of the patented process. What's more, the method for printing them doesn't require the use of special fluorescent inks. "What's amazes people about the new technology is that we can create fluorescent writing on a digital printer without using fluorescent ink," said Eschbach in a statement on Wednesday.
"That means a four-color digital printer can print everything it normally would, and it can simultaneously individualize a document with a fluorescent identifier," he added. Eschbach went on to explain that the new technology is part of a larger body of research that Xerox is currently working on that builds security into documents based on a digital printer's ability to make any element on the page—such as lines, text, and images—unique to the recipient.
In fact, it was while working on these new technologies that the inspiration for hidden fluorescent wording first materialized, according to Eschbach. The group was working on the creation of Xerox's GlossMark imaging, a technology that uses the differential gloss in a toner to print a hologram-like image, when Eschbach started to wonder if there was a way to also make fluorescent marks using conventional toner.
He and the group realized that most paper manufacturers already inject fluorescent brightening agents in paper to enchance its "whiteness," so they worked to create certain combinations of toner that would allow the paper's fluorescence to shine through when exposed to ultraviolet light, Eschbach said.
Subsequently, Xerox developed a font that uses that inherent contrast to essentially "write" hidden fluorescent letters and numbers.
Xerox expects that over time, the technology will be used in personalized checks that will have the account holder's signature printed in a fluorescent stripe.
"A merchant could easily compare the fluorescent signature with the actual one to validate the check," said Eschbach.
The new specialty font will be a part of the Xerox FreeFlow Variable Information Suite 5.0, Xerox said, and will be sold to commercial printers who produce personalized documents.
Wednesday's announcement follows another recent discovery from Xerox's scientists, who were able to successfully create a what they call a "color language" for verbal color correction. While still in the research stages, that technology is able to translate human descriptions of color into the precise numerical codes that machines then use to print various color documents, according to Xerox.