New App Will Help Fight Counterfeits in Fashion

NEC Corp. may be on its way to changing to counterfeit game. The Japanese IT company has developed an app to help fight the ever-growing counterfeit market, and it was specifically designed with fake fashion in mind.

The company's authentication system, which is still in testing phases and salted for release in 2016, compares user's photos of accessories with those on its cloud-based database, removing any need for barcodes or serial numbers, as was previously required for other authenticity verification services. The program reportedly recognizes “object fingerprints,” images of patterns naturally created on products and parts in the manufacturing process, and checks them against a database of data entered in advance in order to identify specific products and their respective manufacturers.

Much like fingerprints, NEC says materials patterns vary with the individual item and manufacturer, and naturally occur during the manufacturing process. "As they are too fine to recognize with the human eye, it is difficult to intentionally produce them on the surface of components," NEC stated. But the company suggests there are more benefits that ensuring authenticity.

According to a statement from NEC, "as manufacturing and distribution are expanded and globalized, it is increasingly important to manage products that are mass-produced and distributed in large quantities all over the world." Additional benefits that come along with its system include "individual identification purposes. This enhances product traceability that helps identify when and who made purchases at which stores and other information, and paves the way for using data for identifying loyal customers and stores, as well as for product promotion and other purposes."

Moreover, the Japan-based company claims the system will aid in maintenance work and the management of product parts, as "the technology registers and recognizes the surfaces of small-sized parts on which it is difficult to add identification tags or serial numbers for more sophisticated part management. Their dimensions and lengths can be checked without detaching them after they are attached. This helps increase efficiency in maintenance and inspection work and prevents accidents arising from attaching a wrong part."

How useful will this app be for online shoppers? I'm not so sure. As we told you just last week, the sophistication of counterfeit-sellers online is increasing, and as a result, their sites look pretty convincing. This is due, in large part, to their pricing and their use of photos of authentic goods, many of which are lifted from authorized retailer's websites. In most cases, while the shopper thinks they are getting a high quality, authentic purse, she ends up with a cheap Made in [not Paris or Italy] copy, and has very little recourse at that point because counterfeit sellers aren't exactly known for their customer service. With this in mind, I'm assuming this app would be helpful for those in charge of authenticating goods at discount retailers and online consignment shops (the latter of which have become increasing popular), which claim to sell authentic goods.