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Machine learning can tell if you’re wearing swap-meet Louie

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A wise man once said “The hat mighta had a L V on the back but at the swap meet that ain’t jack,” and now researchers can ensure that the Louis Vuitton or Prada or Coach you bought is the real deal. The system, which essentially learns the difference between real and fake products over time, uses a small microscope connected to a phone.

“The underlying principle of our system stems from the idea that microscopic characteristics in a genuine product or a class of products-corresponding to the same larger product line-exhibit inherent similarities that can be used to distinguish these products from their corresponding counterfeit versions,” said New York University Professor Lakshminarayanan Subramanian.

The researchers have commercialized the product as Entrupy Inc., a startup founded by Ashlesh Sharma, an NYU doctoral graduate, Vidyuth Srinivasan and Professor Subramanian. You can even buy the product now and run a few dozen authentications per month.



The system is non-invasive and does not damage the merchandise. Because it uses a “dataset of three million images” you can assess a material almost instantly. It takes about 15 seconds to test a product and it can distinguish fabrics, leather, pills, shoes and toys. It can even tell if electronics are authentic.

“The classification accuracy is more than 98 percent, and we show how our system works with a cellphone to verify the authenticity of everyday objects,” said Subramanian.

Entrupy has raised $2.6 million in funding and has apparently authenticated $14 million in real and fake purses, watches and other fancy stuff. I can definitely help out if you get angry and feel the need to begin sockin’ more fools than Patrick Swayze because they are selling bootleg purses.


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