hololens warehouse background

CBP tests augmented reality, blockchain to better protect intellectual property

Customs and Border Protection is running multiple emerging-technology pilots to see how new tech can better address agency needs. In the latest project, CBP agents are using Microsoft HoloLens augmented-reality headsets to inspect goods for intellectual property rights violations.

Instead of referring to paper guides to verify the authenticity of an imported product, the agents use a HoloLens-enabled mobile app to instantly access product details and compare the reference images to the physical object they are examining. CBP is also considering an app for consumers that would allow them to test items such as pharmaceuticals to know if they are legitimate.

“We just had a kickoff meeting with trade [partners for the intellectual property efforts] this week, and we are going to have our first requirements meeting in January. We expect to have development start not long after that,” Vincent Annunziato, director of the Business Transformation and Innovation Division in CBP’s Office of International Trade, told GCN at an Oct. 30 FCW blockchain event.  

CBP also recently concluded the “live fire testing” of a blockchain proof of concept that uses the technology to verify certificates of origin from the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central America Free Trade Agreement partners.  “Everything that we are doing with blockchain is to look at the facilitation aspects,” he said. “How could we move goods through quicker and make our footprints smaller?”

That project is being explored in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.

“We want to move to a standard where you don’t have to customize for every node,” Annunziato said.  “We are trying to level the playing field.” 

Annunziato said his division is working on a report based on findings from the experiment. “Overall, the comments have been outstanding for us,” he said. “Now, the next step is to figure out how agency could make it happen if they are interested in moving forward.”

CBP is also partnering with the University of Houston to better understand how the agency can take better advantage of blockchain as new use cases emerge.

“What would a blockchain world look like? What would be part of the blockchain? Would we develop the blockchain? What parties would be involved? How might businesses prep if changes are taken on? These are all things that I can’t see in the grand scheme,” Annunziato said.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.

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