2.5.2020 1:00 PM

Tech

This AI-powered scanning system can spot fake Nike shoes and bogus Yeezys

A startup called Entrupy just introduced "Legit Check Tech" to blow up the counterfeit market.

Entrupy

As convenient as it is to buy sneakers from resale apps like GOAT or StockX, one of their main flaws is the way they authenticate sneakers. Since they rely on humans to verify whether pairs being sold are real or fake, the entire process can be subjective — the decision is up to the person who's inspecting the shoes on any given day. Do they have the right "factory" smell? Do the size tags have the correct details from brands? Is the stitching precise? These are all things authenticators on these services look for.

But, with counterfeiters getting smarter and now making near 1:1 replicas of authentic pairs from Nike, Adidas, and other brands, it's getting increasingly difficult for the human eye to spot the differences between them. That's a problem that Entrupy believes it can fix. Born out of New York University, the startup has developed technology dubbed "Legit Check Tech" (LCT), which uses a combination of hardware and software to accurately and efficiently identify fake sneakers.

The "LCT" box — Entrupy's system consists of eight cameras that live inside an LCT box (pictured below), where the sneakers that need to be authenticated are placed and then, with the tap of a button on a companion app, get photographed from different angles in a fixed position. From there, LCT uses artificial intelligence to compare hundreds of data points from the sneaker being pictured to a database of authentic pairs Entrupy has built.

Based on the demo I saw, authenticating a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1 "Travis Scott" took less than a minute, and Entrupy says that process could be even faster in future versions of its LCT. The company told Input that right now its database of authentic sneakers supports most Air Jordan 1 and Adidas Yeezy styles, which account for 20 percent of the sneakers sold on resale marketplaces, including GOAT, StockX, and eBay. "We are continuously expanding this coverage and are aiming to support at least 70 percent of the products traded on the secondary sneaker market," said Will Tan, Entrupy's chief operating officer.

The "Legit Check Tech" box.Entrupy

Game-changer — If Entrupy's tech works as advertised, and so far it looks like it does, it has the potential to be a game-changer for sneaker resellers, an industry that's expected to be valued at $6 billion by 2025. The LCT box could instantly remove the human bias (and erring) from the equation and, instead, offer a solution for businesses that bases its authentications on detailed data rather than instinct. Tan said that he's confident in the accuracy of Entrupy's legit checks, noting that the LCT system gets it right "99-plus" percent of the time.

While Entrupy was founded in 2012, it wasn't until 2017 that its authentication technology caught a major break. That was the year its other product, a portable device that scans luxury goods (such as Louis Vuitton handbags), became one of the main tools on eBay's Authenticate program — which is designed to spot counterfeit goods. More recently, last month the startup teamed up with Nordstrom on the "authentication of certain luxury designer items," as part of the retailer's new venture into the second-hand market.

The goal for Entrupy now, Tan said, is to try to find sneaker resale businesses to partner with. He added that Entrupy is already in talks with a "number of players" in the space, including some we're all "familiar with," though he didn't specify which exactly because there are no deals in place. Tan also didn't say how much the Legit Check Tech will cost companies like GOAT or StockX, only going as far as to say that those details are still being finalized.

Entrupy's LCT app in action.Entrupy
Entrupy