Want to find out whether or not something is a fake? In the future, you might only have to snap a photo with your smartphone. NEC has developed “object fingerprint” technology that compares the tiniest details of an object (such as the metal or plastic grain) with images in a cloud database; if something doesn’t look quite right in that cut-rate handbag, you’ll know right away. It’s useful beyond piracy, too. You could trace the origins of legitimate items, or make sure that repair crews are using the right parts.
As you’d expect, the technology isn’t perfect. You’ll need a macro lens (including one that NEC plans to release) to get the necessary high-detail shots. The Japanese firm also hasn’t said whether or not you’ll have easy access to its anti-counterfeit tool, although that partly depends on its negotiation skills; it’s hoping to partner with other companies to make the phone-based scanner a reality by March 2016. If all goes well, though, you’ll always have a way to spot black market goods.