The internet may have opened up a whole new world of shopping opportunities, but it's also never been easier to be duped when we're making an extravagant purchase. When we've decided to buy something as cripplingly expensive as a designer bag, for instance, it can be a nightmare trying to work out whether an item is legit. Blame the growth of second-hand dealers and the high quality of many designer knockoffs.
But thankfully there's now a gadget that can do the hard work for us. Entrupy, a New-York based tech startup, has created a nifty device that can tell the difference between a counterfeit designer bag and the real deal. How? All you need is a smartphone and a handheld microscopic camera and you'll have an answer within minutes, Bloomberg reported.
The camera magnifies objects 260 times, bringing to light features that would otherwise be invisible to the human eye. Fashion labels routinely add holographic tags, microprinting and even radio beacons to their products to prove they're the real deal, and classic signs of a knockoff, such as misshapen stamp marks, tiny gaps in leather grain, and paint overruns, would also be visible on camera.
Entrupy's database contains photos of "tens of millions of photographs from about 30,000 different handbags and wallets" and the software becomes even more intelligent as users upload new photos of both real and knockoff items, Bloomberg reported.
The service launched a year ago and the accuracy of the device has improved to 98% for 11 designer brands including Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Hermes, the company told Bloomberg.
The device, which looks like a torch, is probably too pricey for the average shopper to bother with, but it's worth it for second-hand online stores, online marketplaces, pawn shops and wholesalers, for whom establishing the authenticity of products is crucial. It can be leased for $299 (£230) and monthly plans start at $99 (£76). About 160 businesses have signed up so far, the company told Bloomberg.
The technology can even be used to authenticate other items. “The technology works pretty well on everything except for diamonds and porcelain, because those are refractive and we use optical analysis,” said Vidyuth Srinivasan, one of the company's co-founders. “We’ve already tested it on auto parts, phones, chargers, headphones, jackets, shoes, even crude oil.”