The counterfeiting industry is anticipated to grow to $2.8 trillion in 2022 costing 5.4 million jobs. These counterfeiting operations push real producers to bankruptcy as cheaper knockoffs with unknown origins flood the market. In order to solve this issue we developed a blockchain powered service with tags that uniquely identify products which cannot be faked or duplicated while also giving transparency. As consumers today not only value the product itself but also the story behind it.

What it does

Certi-Chain uses a python based blockchain to authenticate any products with a Certi-Chain NFC tag. Each tag will contain a unique ID attached to the blockchain that cannot be faked. Users are able to tap their phones on any product containing a Certi-Chain tag to view the authenticity of a product through the Certi-Chain blockchain. Additionally if the product is authentic users are also able to see where the products materials were sourced and assembled.

How we built it

Certi-Chain uses a simple python blockchain implementation to store the relevant product data. It uses a proof of work algorithm to add blocks to the blockchain and check if a blockchain is valid. Additionally, since this blockchain is decentralized, nodes (computers that host a blockchain) have to be synced using a consensus algorithm to decide which version of the blockchain from any node should be used. In order to render web pages, we used Python Flask with our web server running the blockchain to fetch relative information from the blockchain and displayed it to the user in a style that is easy to understand. A web client to input information into the chain was also created using Flask to communicate with the server.

Challenges we ran into

For all of our group members this project was one of the toughest we had. The first challenge we ran into was that once our idea was decided we quickly realized only one group member had the appropriate hardware to test our product in real life. Additionally, we deliberately chose an idea in which none of us had experience in. This meant we had to spent a portion of time to understand concepts such as blockchain and also using frameworks like flask. Beyond the starting choices we also hit several roadblocks as we were unable to get the blockchain running on the cloud for a significant portion of the project hindering the development. However, in the end we were able to effectively rack our minds on these issues and achieve a product that exceeded our expectations going in. In the end we were all extremely proud of our end result and we all believe that the struggle was definitely worth it in the end.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Our largest achievement was that we were able to accomplish all our wishes for this project in the short time span we were given. Not only did we learn flask, some more python, web hosting, NFC interactions, blockchain and more, we were also able to combine these ideas into one cohesive project. Being able to see the blockchain run for the first time after hours of troubleshooting was a magical moment for all of us. As for the smaller wins sprinkled through the day we were able to work with physical NFC tags and create labels that we stuck on just about any product we had. We also came out more confident in the skills we already knew and also developed new skills we gained on the way.

What we learned

In the development of Certi-Check we learnt so much about blockchains, hashes, encryption, python web frameworks, product design, and also about the counterfeiting industry too. We came into the hackathon with only a rudimentary idea what blockchains even were and throughout the development process we came to understand the nuances of blockchain technology and security. As for web development and hosting using the flask framework to create pages that were populated with python objects was certainly a learning curve for us but it was a learning curve that we overcame. Lastly, we were all able to learn more about each other and also the difficulties and joys of pursuing a project that seemed almost impossible at the start.

What's next for Certi-Chain

Our team really believes that what we made in the past 36 hours can make a real tangible difference in the world market. We would love to continue developing and pursuing this project so that it can be polished for real world use. This includes us tightening the security on our blockchain, looking into better hosting, and improving the user experience for anyone who would tap on a Certi-Chain tag.

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