Entrupy scanning device detects fakes

Entrupy, a portable scanning device that can instantly detect imitation designer bags, has been launched in New York, just as Greater China has been cited as the world’s largest producer of counterfeit goods.

While counterfeits are a problem for luxury fashion brands, they can be even more of a headache for resellers as online consumers seek high-end items at bargain prices.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the global counterfeit industry is worth about US$460 billion. Hong Kong is listed at number one, with China as the number-two “provenance economy”, meaning it either produces fakes or serves as a transit point for them. Of the total number of seizures, 63.2 per cent originated in China.

While buyers may analyse stitching, font size and interior labels to help them detect fakes, sometimes a copy is so well made it is hard for the human eye to tell it from the original.

Enter Entrupy, a device that instantly detects imitations by taking microscopic pictures that examine details of the material, processing, workmanship, serial number, and wear and tear. It then uses deep learning to compare the images against a database of luxury brands. If the bag is deemed authentic, users immediately receive a certificate of authenticity.

Entrupy 2

‘Huge lack of trust’

After launching as a paid service in September, the venture has more than 130 clients, most of them American businesses drawn to the 97.1 per cent accuracy rate, says Entrupy CEO Vidyuth Srinivasan.

Investors include New York University, deep-learning pioneer Yann LeCun, and Japanese
venture capital firm Accord Ventures.

“We’re choosing to start with second-hand resellers initially as we see a huge lack of trust in the luxury goods space, especially online,” says Srinivasan.

Singapore e-tailer The Fifth Collection, which specialises in second-hand luxury fashion, became one of Entrupy’s early investors two years ago, when founders Nejla Matam-Finn and Michael Finn were self-funding The Fifth Collection. They do not charge extra for the scanning service.

“Authentication is core to our business,” the husband-and-wife team says. “This technology adds a new scientific dimension to our authentication arsenal.”

While Entrupy is not the sole authentication technology available, its simplicity and ability to learn from every scanned item was a major draw for The Fifth Collection.

Meanwhile, government support and consumer awareness about unethical manufacturing practices are key to beating counterfeits, says Matam-Finn.

“Governments need to take a zero-tolerance approach to counterfeiting in general, especially in places like Singapore that trade on their reputation for transparency, trust and strong rule of law.”

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