Counterfeiting is around $1.6T a year problem worldwide, expected to reach $4.2T by 2022 – Nitin Gupta

In Artificial Intelligence

The steady rise in the growth of counterfeit products has created a negative impact in the world market. Apart from having tremendous business potential, India stands as a major market for counterfeit products. Counterfeiting is spread across all the sectors/industries like pharma, retail, FMCG, etc. from toothpaste to aspirin and to high end handbag, counterfeit is everywhere. The problem arises when the companies are not being able to track down this market and collect their end consumer data and are unable to keep an eye on distribution network.

NeuroTags is the one stop solutions for counterfeits and fake. It can save customers from buying the fake product by scanning the tag placed on the product which also gives them referral and loyalty points. These points can then be used for getting discounts on further purchases.

NeuroTags provides mathematically coupled tags, namely open and protected. The open tags are visible on the product and can be scanned by anyone to get the information of the product and an indication of authenticity with certain probability. Once a product is purchased user has access to the protected tag, which is protected by a scratch layer, or is kept inside the product seal. After scanning the protected tag using the smartphone, a user gets the authentic information with certainty. Also, user can avail warranty, loyalty and referral points after scanning this tag. The tags are connected and protected by algorithms on the server in such a way that, if anyone tries to replicate the tags, it gets caught and the copied product gets invalidated.

NeuroTags was launched in January 2017 by the team of technology leaders – Nitin Gupta, Yogesh Miharia and Abhishek Agarwal who all have worked in the hard-core tech and start-up sector.

IncubateIND recently met up with Nitin Gupta and spoke to about the wave of new technology that has been disrupting the way businesses were done traditionally

Tell us something about your idea and what market size are you looking at?

The idea of NeuroTags came to me while watching a documentary on the counterfeit market that made me realize how big this problem is and how badly it is affecting the market. After a thorough R&D about the counterfeit market and use of the technology that can solve this problem, in early 2017 we designed a foolproof technology- NeuroTags. It took us around a year to develop and launch it in Jan 2018. The idea is to protect the world market from the counterfeits and fakes. We also assist manufacturers in keeping track on their products and help them in acquiring their offline end customers’ product interaction data.

Counterfeiting is around $1.6 Trillion a year problem worldwide and is expected to reach $4.2T by 2022. The companies across the world are already spending around $204 Billion a year on ineffective solutions available in the market. Recently companies have realized the usefulness and viability of the digital anti-counterfeit solutions due to the penetration of smartphones and have started to look out for solutions like ours.

We aim to become the major digital anti-counterfeit solution provider in coming years.

What are some key features of NeuroTags and the traction till date?

NeuroTags provides the world’s first of its kind anti-counterfeit technology tags. We use patent-pending technology that truly eliminates the counterfeit in the most effective way. Our AI technology is continuously monitoring the happenings on the server for our clients and raises a red flag when a suspicious activity is observed.

Below are some of the key points that differentiate us from others:

  • Patent-pending technology that truly eliminates the Counterfeit in the most effective way.
  • Cost effective and gives end consumers the assurance that they are buying a genuine product
  • For brands, we provide complete end to end solution for their automated production lines
  • Flexible and easy to adopt by brands in their existing process
  • Helps collect the real-time offline user’s data which in turn helps in BI
  • Insights of product lines effectiveness
  • Insights on Geography/City wise effectiveness
  • Enable A/B testing of marketing in the offline world

Being the first of its kind, we have successfully bagged 6 clients from various sectors like FMCG, electronics, pharma, etc. We have collaborated with brands like Syska and medium scale industries such as Pikwik, PureDrop, Prika and Janitri.

Currently, in terms of market penetration where do you stand and where do you wish to take it?

In terms of market penetration, currently, our technology can be adopted across all the sectors and industries. India being the fastest growing market, the counterfeit market is also simultaneously growing, leaving the manufactures with heavy losses. Though India is a rapidly growing market it is very cost sensitive and people prefer technologies or solutions which are cost effective to protect their products from getting counterfeited. This is what opens doors of opportunities for us. I can confidently say that we are the only technology providers in the world, which provides counterfeit solutions along with offline data collection at a very nominal cost. We also provide other useful solutions according to the client’s requirements on top of the anti-counterfeit, solutions such as track & trace, consumer behavior data, loyalty program, eWarranty, etc.

We are working with some major brands in the country like Syska and discussions are underway with few other national and international companies. Since the counterfeit market in India has reached Rs. 40,000 crores (according to Authentication Solutions Providers Association’s report), I feel that we are at the right place and at the right time to provide the right services at an affordable price.

I feel there is no limit for us as far as penetration in the market is concerned as almost every industry needs our solution. With current scenario, I see a plethora of opportunities waiting for us in the Indian and international market.

How does Artificial Intelligence plays the significant role in tackling counterfeiting?

In addition to our patented technology which protects the tags from cloning because of their algorithmic coupling, we have monitoring algorithms (which uses our proprietary and AI technology) which detect any anomaly in the product scanning behaviour, and raise red-flags if anomalous patterns are found for product items.

Brands can set up rules to automatically take certain actions when such flags are found, such as disabling the products for certain geographies or just ask the consumer to contact the legal team to report possible fakes and so on.

How can Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things co-exist and solve counterfeiting?

AI is a collection of technology which helps us make sense of data and predict the outcome of new events based on learning from the historical data about the similar events in past. AI is more or less is similar to human intelligence, i.e. classifying or predicting the next outcome based on current and historical events.

For e.g. When you learn to drive a car, it’s your brain which is getting trained on how much to accelerate and when to break and when to change the lanes, so that you reach your destination without getting into an accident. Most of the data that you get is, from your eyes, ears, physical feel of the car and its grip on the road and the traffic situation. AI in self-driving cars also learns in the similar way with the help of cameras and other sensors. Most of the times for AI to be effective, it needs a lot of data to get trained on.

IoT is more of the pub-sub kind of technology which connects devices to devices. IoT’s objective is to let the devices connect and communicate with each other in an automated manner to perform certain tasks based on the collective conditions, without much of human interventions.

For e.g. IoT can be used to automatically control the supply of the water drips to plants in the farm based on current humidity in the air and sunlight. Usually in typical IoT setup, you have a sensor which collects the data, then transmitter/receiver to send data/receive data, controller which takes action based on commands sent by remote server, a central/remote server (or set of servers and edge servers) which collects and processes the data and typically check if any action needs to be taken and sends back the ack or actions.

If you see, it is very similar to the nervous system (sensors, receivers, transmitters) in the body connecting to the brain (central server), now this central system may use the set of rules coded by the programmer or may use AI or better and more practical, combination of both.

So in very simple words, you can say the IoT is like a nervous system which collects and sends data to brain, and this brain can just remain primitive or can be made more intelligent with AI. So to make an auto improving intelligent and smart IoT system you would need AI and to train the AI you may use the data collected from the IoT system.

For the case of NeuroTags, you can say mobile devices (sensors, receivers, and transmitters) collect the information of our algorithmically coupled codes on the product and securely send it over internet to our set of NeuroTags servers on cloud (brain). Which then process the information about the code and send back the genuineness information to be displayed to user.

Is Artificial Intelligence a fad or revolutionary technology?

From a computer scientist’s perspective, Artificial Intelligence is the technology which is a natural progression of the current human intelligence. AI helps us make sense of huge and complex data comparatively easily and more effectively, without we writing a lot of if/else conditions and other complex logics in the code.

It is proving itself to be useful in lot of areas in medicine, fraud detection, self-driving cars, NLP / conversation assistant and other automation processes where we as human or team of humans may have biological or practical limitations.

And the good thing is, once it’s trained, unlike human brain, it can be cloned, distributed and massively used like any other software.

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