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Startup to take smart chip for designer furniture to market

Three engineering students have developed an ID tag that can be built into designer furniture and link it wirelessly on the internet. This can help prevent theft and receiving stolen goods across national borders.

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Three engineering students want to turn their Bachelor's project into a startup company. In cooperation with Danish police they have developed an id tag and a software system to help combat theft of designer furniture across borders. The picture shows (from left) Emil Garder Kær, Anders Kallesøe Pedersen and Camilla Holmstoel. Photo: Martin Gravgaard.

Furniture manufacturers, private consumers and the police can look forward to a new weapon against theft, receiving stolen goods, and copying.

Three students from Aarhus University have developed a small chip with an associated software system that can connect a piece of furniture to the cloud from the time it is manufactured at the factory until it is disposed of as waste. This can help to document both originality and ownership.

"We want to give furniture a digital identity that makes it easy for consumers to document ownership and for furniture manufacturers to protect themselves against counterfeiting.  It will also help the police to investigate crime," says Anders Pedersen, engineering student at Aarhus University and co-founder of the startup company InTag'd.

The ID tag works without electricity, and this means that the students have created a product that can solve a number of problems in the furniture industry.

"We can integrate the tag into metal, wood or textiles, for example, and thereby follow the furniture throughout its life cycle. Even though we’ve yet to launch the product, we’ve already experienced a great deal of interest from companies and government agencies," says Anders Kallesøe Pedersen.

Huge benefits for consumers

The tracking device is based on a system of new IoT technologies that makes it possible to track the furniture across national borders with different frequency bands. It also transmits a strong signal that you can scan from a standard mobile phone.

"The idea is for consumers to be able to register themselves as owners of a piece of designer furniture, whether it's new or old. This means they will always be able to identify it again if it is stolen, giving the police a considerable advantage in their efforts to trace the furniture and gather evidence," says Camilla Holmstoel Andreasen, co-founder and engineering student.

In Denmark alone, furniture accounts for almost one-tenth of all household theft, and insurance companies pay around DKK 300 million in claims every year. This means that there is a large pool of stolen goods in circulation, explains Emil Garder Kær, another co-founder of InTag'd and engineering student.

"We want to develop a technology that can provide optimal protection for consumers. Today, the buyer is left holding the bill if it turns out that furniture is actually stolen goods, and a lot of people are unwittingly caught up in this situation." 

The police can spot thieves on the roads

The students have collaborated with the East Jutland Police on designing the system that can connect furniture with the internet, and it is hoped is that this will be an effective tool to curb and solve future crime.

For example, furniture can be registered by a simple road scanner, and in the future this may turn out to be a game-changer in work to trace goods.

“Imagine that the chip communicates with simple roadside scanners in a system that is connected to the existing surveillance cameras in the road network. A picture of a number plate, a signal from a piece of furniture, and a position marker can make it very easy for the police to identify the criminals and their stolen goods," says Emil Garder Kær.