Lenovo Wants to Use Blockchain to Validate Documents

The famous PC maker has filed for a patent that describes a blockchain-based system for verifying the validity of physical documents.

Lenovo stand

Like many other major corporations, Lenovo is not immune to the decentralized computing trend. The Chinese company which we know best for their laptops, tablets and smartphones is looking to join the blockchain party in some fashion. At least for the time being, it doesn’t aim to launch its own cryptocurrency — like Kodak and Atari — rather Lenovo wants to improve existing operations with the help of a decentralized ledger.

Verifying documents using blockchain

Unfortunately, Lenovo doesn’t envision some high-tech use case for blockchain; rather, it wants to use the technology as part of a system for verifying the validity of physical documents.

In the application recently released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the company describes a set-up that utilizes digital signatures encoded in physical documents, which can be processed by computers and other devices, to verify the legitimacy of a document.

The system would include a processing machine that decodes the signature and translates it into a digital “map” of the document, which can then be compared to the physical copy at hand. Lenovo refers to that digital signature as a “security block chain,” with a series of digital signatures representing blocks in the security chain. This chain acts as a distributed database that “maintains a continuously growing list of data records secured from tampering and revision,” the patent filing explains, adding that every block contains “information about the physical document at various points in time.”

Here’s how that would work:

Using the security blockchain, anyone can validate that they have the current authentic physical document even if multiple paper copies exist and multiple people have made entries in the chain of modification. If any forgeries exist, they will show up as orphaned blocks in the chain. To validate a paper copy, a user of the electronic device takes a picture of the printed code on the physical document.

The benefit of this blockchain-based system, according to Lenovo, is increased trust, as all parties holding copies of a given document are assured they are each “viewing an accurate copy” at any given time.

From what we can tell, this sort of technology could fit into Lenovo’s supply chain where a number of documents is involved. Actually, knowing that some document has not been forged has many use cases; we are just not sure what’s Lenovo planning to do about it. After all, they are in the computer/device making business…

Nonetheless, this isn’t the first time the Chinese company is experimenting with decentralized computing. Last year, it has reportedly started working with IBM on a blockchain-based invoicing system. At the time, the Forbes report suggested that the deal between the two giants aims to make the billing and operational data processes more traceable and transparent.

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