snake oil - picard tech

During a conversation with a client recently, they pointed me toward Picard as an example of a thing they were curious about.

With Picard, you can safely share and display images online - using a unique patent pending technology that displays a clear image, but prevents the viewer from saving, downloading, and even capturing the image.

Picard is the only available solution that utilizes an optical illusion to protect images online, stops the image theft at its core, and keeps the image completely secure.

Picard is the perfect solution for anyone who wants to display images in a secure manner, and is ideal for stock image suppliers, photographers, graphic designers, visual artists, bloggers and content creators, news sites, e-commerce sites, and more.

The first thing I said back to this client was “snake oil”.

The snake oil peddler became a stock character in Western movies: a traveling “doctor” with dubious credentials, selling fake medicines with boisterous marketing hype often supported by pseudo-scientific evidence.

Boisterous marketing hype? the perfect solution Check.

Pseudo-scientific evidence? an optical illusion to protect images Check.

Sometimes I wonder if people who claim they’ve made perpetual motion machines have just tied up their brains into such confusing knots that they actually believe that they’ve done it. I have a really hard time believing that someone could tie up their brain enough believe that this method would keep images secure.

See they split the image into into two parts. But instead of splitting it cleanly in half or in lines, they put a random half of the pixels in one image and half in the other:

Which I grant, doesn't look very nice.

To display the image, they load it into a <canvas> and flash back and forth between them, using persistance of vision to present a clear (if flickery) image. And if you use a screen capture one, you’ll only get one of them.

But do it again and overlap the two:

Tada!

So yeah, five minutes later I sent the reconstructed image back to my client saying, this kind of thing just never works. Sometimes it’ll be easy to break, sometimes it’ll take someone some effort, but it’ll always be breakable. Because if you give something to somebody to look at on their computer that they control, if they can look at it they can copy it.

(Don’t buy digital rights management solutions, many of them can be broken in five minutes, and the rest will be broken in a few weeks.)