If you buy a product that’s faulty or damaged and return it, you want to know the manufacturer is taking appropriate action to stop the same thing happening again. But typically tracing a product back to figure out where it got damaged is limited to a batch of those items. Hitachi has decided to solve that problem with a new invisible product tracking system.The new system is capable of printing a unique id on to any product using stealth ink and an inkjet printer. That id can only be seen and read when placed under a UV light source, and contains detailed information about how it was produced. Not only is the id easy to apply to individual products and a multitude of different surface types, reading it can be done at a rate of 160 meters per second. So that’s products passing under the scanner at a rate of up to 160m/s.The unique ids should make it much easier to track specific items, while at the same time they don’t interfere with the design of product packaging at all. But they also have an additional benefit: the invisible ids can be used to check if a product is counterfeit or not.Obviously such a check relies on counterfeiters not having access to the stealth ink printer, but Hitachi should be able to stop such hardware falling into the wrong hands. In terms of checking a product is real, you just need access to a UV light, which are pretty cheap to pick up.I can also see this being of great use for protecting devices. For example, Apple could offer to add an invisible id to that expensive MacBook Pro you just purchased containing all your details in case it gets stolen.