Luxury handbags are being counterfeited with increasing sophistication – but a startup in New York has developed a gadget that can detect them with better than 98% accuracy.
Sophisticated knock-offs can be difficult to spot, even for experts.
It takes years of experience to see mistakes in the grain of the leather, or issues with the stitching – and even then there is a lot of guesswork involved.
New York startup Entrupy believes it has developed technology that can solve those issues.
Using a handheld microscope camera and computer vision software, the company claims its tech can spot fakes for 11 brands, including Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, with better than 98% accuracy.
Second-hand clothes stores use specialist staff to detect counterfeits, but as Entrupy’s co-founder Vidyuth Srinivasan told Bloomberg, “for businesses that are growing, that’s not a scalable solution”.
The team worked with Yann LeCun, one of the most respected researchers in the computer vision space and the director of Facebook’s artificial intelligence research team, as well as an angel investor, to get things rolling.
Mr Srinivasan founded Entrupy with a hunch that computer algorithms could be trained to distinguish genuine luxury handbags from counterfeits.
Entrupy does not have a relationship with the fashion brands themselves, according to Mr Srinivasan, who told Bloomberg the brands prefer not to acknowledge there is a second-hand market for their products.
As more high-end fashion commerce moves online, however, retailers active in that space are pursuing methods to ensure their customers keep coming back.
The startup says it has around 160 business customers, including online retailers, who want to ensure their products are what they are selling them as.
The device can be leased by customers for an initial fee of $299 (£231) and monthly plans start from $99 (£76.5) per month.