We have all seen the scene in a Hollywood crime thriller where a scanned fingerprint or face from a CCTV camera is run through the FBI’s database to come up with the name of a suspect.
Hublot is promising it can pull off the same trick as the Feds with a system capable of identifying any watches leaving the factory next year using nothing more than a photograph taken using a modern smartphone.
The LVMH-owned watchmaker is switching to an electronic passport and warranty system to authenticate and track its watches using, in part, a system that can identify every piece based on the uniqueness of materials from which they are made.
The system has taken three years of research and development in partnership with KerQuest, which uses artificial intelligence and technology similar to facial recognition to identify a Hublot watch using just a mobile phone photograph.
“Although the technology developed relies on complex algorithms, it is simple and user friendly. A perfect fusion between technological complexity and ease of use,” says Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot.
The watchmaker has been working on the development of algorithms in partnership with KerQuest since 2017. The goal has been to develop a technology that need only to recognize the microstructure of the materials that make up a Hublot watch.
Hublot says each of its watches is as unique as a fingerprint, with even two watches of the same model leaving the manufacture distinguishable thanks to the singularities of their microstructure. The challenge faced was how to read them and process them in a reliable and practical way.
The solution was always at the very heart of the Hublot manufacture, where specially designed optical readers capture invisible details in ultra-high definition.
When a watch is sold, the point of sale activates the warranty using the Hublot-e-warranty application. The photo is sent to the computing infrastructure that will process it and automatically activate the warranty if the piece has been correctly identified.
Once the watch has been recognised and authenticated, the customer receives their Hublot e-warranty through e-mail or even WhatsApp.
This enables them to easily access new services, such as verifying the authenticity of a piece, retrieving the warranty status of a piece, or accessing the Hublotista community.
A digital passport records the watch’s service history, any change of ownership and other details.
The system is part of anti-counterfeiting and lifetime tracing measures developed by Hublot’s parent company LVMH that use incorruptible blockchain records.