Banknotes and Secure Documents: Know the limits of perception

Exchanges involving secure documents typically occur in a matter of seconds. People find the information they require, check authenticity, and get an emotional “feel” for the document’s value. They do this quickly, often in a busy setting.
How do pressures of time, distraction, and expectation limit the perception of your secure documents?  How easily is information mistaken? Do counterfeits go unnoticed? Do people trust and admire your documents or products? To answer these questions you need to know the limits of user perception. This can only be determined be undertaking perception testing.

Carefully and scientifically measuring the limits of human perception is the best way to assess how useful, inimitable, and trustworthy your documents or products really are. 

Protection again Counterfeit

The perceptual responses of users provide the front line in the battle against counterfeit. Understanding how effective an anti-counterfeit devices or features will be depends entirely on how often human users take note of those features and how well they can judge when they have been faked. This is best assessed with formal perception testing. Formal perception testing involves having an appropriate number of people judge and handle banknotes or other products under controlled conditions. Their sensitivity to counterfeit is carefully measured using scientific methods.

Why is a formal perception test needed? Why can't the views of a few people suffice? There are two answers. 

First, human perception is often reduced in accuracy when there are on-going distractions. Cash exchanges are typically full of distractions, meaning that people are not focused on details of the look and feel of banknotes. This makes life a bit easier for the counterfeiter unless the banknotes security features are perceptually strong enough to overcome distractions. Perception testing can assess this and can provide solid evidence of the integrity of a security feature in the face of distraction. 

Second, people vary in their perceptual abilities. This variation comes from many sources but an important factor is expectation and knowledge of security features notes. Experts know too much about bank notes and cannot themselves provide good judgement about how effective a banknote security feature will be for the average user. To get a good sense of this, a range of typical users needs to be tested.

At Secure Perception Research we use the science of perception:

  • To identify what makes a document susceptible to counterfeit.
  • To quantify the effectiveness of anti-counterfeit measures.
  • To measure accuracy and speed of information acquisition.
  • To measure effectiveness of training and education.
  • To measure emotional response to design elements.
We test different types of users in different types of situations: For example, experienced cash-handlers perceive banknotes in a different way to the general public, and security features which may be effective in one situation may be next to useless in another.

We can test the effectiveness of overt and covert security features:

Where humans come into it, we come into it.