CHRONICLED (“Let’s get real”) is in the sneaker verification business, which apparently is a real thing. The problem is counterfeit sneakers, the people who have the problem are “collectors” (as well as brands), and the solution is cryptography and the blockchain. This is very similar to provenance.org, though specialized to this really niche audience. The service is coming Real Soon Now.
Like provenance.org, this group has some kind of scannable tag with cryptographic a signature. The basic data identifies the shoe and its provenance.
The tag uses NFC or Bluetooth in a mobile device to read the encrypted ID. This is pretty difficult to forge. The company keeps track of the owner and who owns what. This information is stored with public key cryptography on a public blockchain, where anyone can confirm the validity of the tag. (initially, Bitcoin blockchain, but it will work with anything.)
This isn’t a problem I will ever have, though I know a “sneaker head”, so I know the level of dedication to this particular foible. This product is a nice implementation of this concept, though it would be better it the technology were more open.
I also have to point out that the security claims should be taken with a huge “asterisk”: NFC on your mobile device is only as secure as your mobile device and the environment you are in. If someone breaks into your phone. There is also a vulnerability at the factory where the tags are generated—if someone cracks that, then there can be any number of problems, including fake tags.
As with all these provenance products, I have to wonder if using a blockchain is really crucial or just a nice thing to have. I can certainly imagine lots of ways to have a public registry like this, so I’m not sure that the blockchain is essential, per se. But we’ll see. It’s a worthy experiment.