RealTag: Smart technology protecting intellectual property

Whilst studying counterfeiting at the University of Birmingham, David McGee thought up a golden idea to prevent the sale of counterfeit goods. He used his knowledge gained at University to his advantage and setup RealTag. BQ caught up with David to see what the fuss was about.

RealTag creates an app which provides a secure way for users to use their device to check if a product is genuine and allows brands to communicate directly with their customers.

The product is similar to the concept of the QR code, in how it allows its user to scan an item and receive more information directly to their handset.

According to the latest IP Crime Report by the IP Crime Group, the cost of IP criminality in terms of lost profits and taxes to the UK economy is in the region of £1.3bn per year.

David is hoping the RealTag product will help drastically reduce this number and protect both brands and consumers from being cheated.

He said: "We understand the technical challenges of creating something that’s innovative, easy to use and absolutely secure.

"So with support from our partners we’re developing such a solution. A solution that turns every smartphone into a verification tool.

"Brand owners can identify each product down to the individual item level. If a consumer wants to know the story of the product, brand owners can provide it – in real time.

"RealTag’s innovation opens the door to brand owners to one to one marketing communication with their customers.

"By working closely with brand owners, we understand the desire to adopt a solution that’s accessible and easy for their customers to use.

"We are developing a system which works across all smartphone platforms, and through understanding user trends are developing a QR code-free solution."

The team at RealTag are utilising space technology developed by the European Space Agency, and have filed for a patent with the UK’s Intellectual Property Office to enable them to commercialise the technology.

Once David had come up with the concept, he knew he would need commercial backing to get the business off the ground and launch his first prototype.

He received the support of a number of funding bodies and business support initiatives when he pitched the idea, so he knew he was onto a winner.

David said: "We secured £250,000 funding from angel investors, the British government and the European space agency which helped us initially fund the project.

"University of Birmingham have also been very supportive, providing an incubator space. Warwick University have been great in helping with our technology challenges."

Speaking about what makes this idea stand out from others, David told BQ: "We’ve created an unbreakable tag that can be read by any smart phone.

"There is no need for ugly QR codes or NFC tags that drain precious battery power (if you’ve a Apple phone you can’t use NFC anyway).

"RealTag has created a simple way of tagging everything that’s valuable. With RealTag it’s real."

Over the last few months, the RealTag team have been focusing on producing working prototypes of the anti-counterfeiting tag and continuing to talk to brands and manufacturers about their requirements for the product.

They are also using the facilities available at BizzInn, the University of Birmingham’s new Business Incubator which provides a number of free services to new start-up businesses in the region.

BQ will continue to cover the RealTag story as the firm continues to grow.

You can view a promotional video of the product here: