Mouse helps find counterfeit euros

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 @ 03:04 PM gHale

It may soon become easier to detect counterfeit euros as easily as using a computer mouse.

The sensor of some optical mice can easily and cheaply detect counterfeit euros, according to a study published by researchers of the University of Lleida (UdL). With almost 80% of counterfeit coins discovered in Europe being two-euro coins, researchers are able to incorporate optical computer mice to detect a counterfeit coin.

Computer engineers developed a prototype to detect the phony funds.

“We have implemented a counterfeit two-euro coin detection system by comparing patterns obtained with an optical mouse sensor”, said Marcel Tresanchez, one of the authors of a study on the subject.

The coin goes in a positioning device and rotates to detect forgeries. The sensor, situated a few millimeters away, can capture images from the common face of the two-euro coins (all have a map of Europe engraved on one side, and a country-specific design on the other). The images then undergo comparison with reference images obtained from genuine coins, using an algorithm also developed by the research team.

“The same operation could be performed with a webcam, for example, but the advantage of these sensors is their small size, low cost and the angle of vision reduced to such an extent that the raised image of coins can easily be captured”, Tresanchez said.

The researcher said they must be able to capture the images in real time, with a minimum resolution of 15×15 pixels (the team used 30×30 pixels). It is also better to use an LED- or infrared-based sensor, and not laser technology, as the laser provides images that are too wide.

This system, devised to complement forgery identification techniques, allows for the detection of counterfeit coins better than any layperson could, although at a similar level to that of a trained expert.

The researchers also applied the same method to design an “encoder” or rotating codifier (which counts the angular movement of an axis) using the optical mouse sensor.

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