Interactive Security and Marketing Solution

Anoto DNA (aDNA) makes it possible to uniquely and unobtrusively code paper and products in a way that can then be easily read using ubiquitous mobile devices. This translates into lots of exciting possibilities for brand protection, interactive marketing, and supply-chain control.

Anoto’s proprietary microdot pattern is the key to aDNA. It is mathematically elegant and it delivers the blend of simplicity and performance required for this compelling application. No area of Anoto’s microdot pattern is the same as any other area which makes objects embedded with aDNA unique. Two otherwise identical items can be distinguished from one another on the basis of their aDNA.


Brand Protection

When we’re buying expensive items or items for which purity is particularly important, we want to feel confident that we are buying genuine products. When customers are scanning aDNA in retail locations those events populate a backend database. Running detection analytics on that database can trigger an alert when identical aDNA is scanned in two different retail locations. Think of this approach as similar to the fraud detection algorithms used by credit card companies. This detection approach can make a valuable contribution to the other tools currently used to keep customers feeling confident in the integrity of products.
It can’t be hacked, even with a supercomputer.

Interactive Marketing

aDNA has the power to make mass-produced products personal. One product among many millions can now be unique. This ability can enhance user engagement and deliver important consumer insights.

From a product innovation perspective this ability to uniquely identify items makes it possible to deliver content and experiences that have the benefit of historical knowledge. Knowing, on a cumulative basis, who has interacted with what, and where and when that interaction occurred, is powerful in the hands of inspired product managers. That power makes it possible to delight customers in previously unattainable ways and to intelligently cross-sell in appreciated ways. We all tend to love products that seem to just get us. The net result is increased revenue, increased customer loyalty, stronger word-of-mouth, and arguably, lower customer acquisition costs.

Marketing insights include an aggregation of the valuable data mentioned above but they can also extend back in the customer journey to better understand the entire path-to-purchase. In retail settings, customer engagement with aDNA empowered items in-store can help to inform a better understanding of things like trade areas. When a customer uses their phone to read a product’s aDNA in a store and then subsequently the same phone is used to read that same aDNA in a different location, we can build up important insights. By combining all of the available data elements we learn a lot about shopping patterns and this exposes important ways to both increase revenue and better serve customers.

Supply Chain Tracking

Just as customers need to feel confident in products, companies need to feel confident about every element of the supply chain that delivers those products.
Applying aDNA to individual components at their point of origin and strategically scanning those components at various points in the chain, delivers an enhanced level of control. This greater control has both legal and financial benefits that, in certain instances, make this application of aDNA incredibly valuable.

aDNA stickers

Each aDNA sticker has a unique microdot pattern printed on it and users can personalize aDNA stickers by scanning them with their mobile and adding contents of their choice using the free aDNA Discovery App.

Using the aDNA stickers in papers, books, other products, etc. gives users the opportunity to enjoy the traditional convenience of paper and all the interactive power of digital. By simply scanning the aDNA sticker on a page/product with their mobile device users are able to enjoy the pre-loaded information. The content can be personalized for them creating a blended experience surpassing anything currently available.


Get answers to the most commonly asked questions about aDNA.

Which mobile devices can read aDNA?

In-house testing indicates that most mainstream Android or iOS devices produced in the last few years will easily read aDNA. In part, this high tolerance for device variance is attributable to the efficient image processing approach we are using. Our ongoing testing program has included devices from Apple, Blackberry, HTC, Huawei, Samsung, Xiaomi, and ZTE.

Is internet access required when scanning aDNA?

Yes, in most instances internet access is required. While our pattern technology supports local data encoding, the rich and easily modifiable experiences for which aDNA is most appropriate require an internet connection.

How important is lighting?

aDNA is very tolerant to variations in lighting levels, particularly if the reading device is equipped with a light source to compensate for very low-light conditions. Harsh lighting can be a challenge if the surface containing aDNA is too reflective.

How close do you need to be to read aDNA?

This varies with pattern magnification and the zoom level set in the app but we do most of our test reading with the device about 10 cm (~4 inches) from the host surface.

What data can be gathered for each scan event?

This will differ between operating systems due to platform policies but generally, with user permission, the app will gather sufficient location, context, and device data to help us all understand users better in order to more efficiently deliver increasing levels of value to them in the future.

What is the smallest area that can be coded?

In most of the use-cases that we are envisioning for this generation of aDNA, the smallest block of pattern will be about 9mm x 9mm.

Do you offer reading performance testing as part of prototyping?

Yes. We believe that empirical evidence is the only basis on which to make good decisions regarding the right balance between readability and unobtrusiveness.

Is reading performance better with high resolution cameras?

Not necessarily, because our proprietary image processing approach makes highly efficient use of relatively small amounts of visual data in order to deliver great performance on a wide variety of devices.

Is it possible to use multiple aDNA patterns on a single product or package?

Yes, but this obviously needs to be done with careful consideration of the user experience.

How does aDNA compare with QR codes?

The below matrix shows our view of the important differences between these two pattern systems. We fundamentally feel that QR codes serve a useful but very different and limited purpose from aDNA.

Unobtrusive – so aesthetics are not marred Yes No
Integrated into entire surface so object orientation isn’t important Yes No
Unique item-level identification possible Yes Yes
Reading apps are widely installed No Often
Users know how to read the pattern without messaging or prior experience No Not often
Error correction to survive damage Yes Yes
Local data encoding capabilities Yes Yes

Follow up

If you love your first aDNA experience, please tell us and maybe share a bit about the use cases that inspire you most. If the demo app doesn’t play nicely for you or you just don’t get the whole aDNA thing, please also let us know. We can take it!

If you have an aDNA project to discuss please drop us a note with the following information and we will do our very best to respond to you as soon as possible. Please understand that we will give timing priority to enquiries suggesting immediate commercial relevance.

All communication regarding aDNA can be directed to

aDNA Discovery

Our aDNA Discovery app is now available for your favorite platform to give you a personal experience with this exciting new technology. Because the app works in combination with printed aDNA, we’re providing you with a demo sheet that you can print to see some of the most powerful use cases in action.

1. Download and print the below demo sheet.

2. Install the aDNA Discovery app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

3. Explore