Invisible ‘Imatag’ Image Watermarks to Change the Tech Leak Landscape

By Bill Toulas / March 24, 2020

A French startup called “Imatag” is hoping to revolutionize the field of image identification and backtracking through its sophisticated invisible watermark technology. Using this new identification technique would help businesses track copies of their material anywhere online, even if they have been modified, cropped, resized, compressed, re-scaled, etc. This is not only implemented for locating unlicensed and/or unauthorized uses of material but also for spotting legitimate shares on social media or other platforms. Imatag can enable businesses to get alerts when their content pops up anywhere online, something that was previously limited to the specifics of other methods.

Another key aspect of using this technology will be to stop tech leaks that spoil the official announcement of products. There has been no smartphone or gadget released in the past couple of years without seeing renders or actual images on Twitter or YouTube first, and so far, leakers have been hiding behind their anonymity. By deploying Imatag’s invisible watermarks, tech companies could quickly figure out who are the reviewers responsible for a product leak, and then never send them a prototype for testing and reviewing again and even take legal action against them for violating non-disclosure agreements.

So, how does this technology work exactly? While Imatag can’t go into specifics, as that would enable someone to reverse-engineer their watermark algorithms, they state they're using a special digital signature applied on the image as invisible psycho-visual masks. They are modifying the pixel values in a way that the colors don’t change, but they are still conveying the signature. This is a type of steganography that not even powerful AIs can detect. At least that is what Imatag claims, saying their signatures are 100% foolproof, undetectable by others, and safe from removal attempts. The firm is even offering to demo their technology online, applying it to an image you can upload on the website.

All that said, the technology of invisible watermarks isn’t something new, but streamlining it for corporate use over millions of different images or videos is novel. Imatag will also be able to create signature families, making it possible for a firm to track their entire collection of visual assets online, and not just a single file. All of these specific aspects constitute the pioneering element in Imatag’s platform and mark a new age in the fields of copyright protection, social media metrics, and tech product leaks prevention.

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