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Japan

Think That Gucci Bag Is Fake? There's An App For That

A handy bargaining tool.
A handy bargaining tool.
Carlo Lavalle

TURIN — How many times have you shopped at a market and found yourself admiring a bag or wallet, wondering whether it was really made by the famous brand displayed on its label?

Thanks to the camera on your smartphone and a forthcoming app, it soon will be possible to verify, in real time, whether a product is counterfeit. The idea came from Japanese IT company NEC Corp., whose system can compare user photos of bags and wallets with those on their cloud-based database.

Existing technology such as Italy's 3C System already allows consumers to scan barcodes before purchase to check the product's legitimacy. But not all products have readable barcodes, and not all are sold in stores. By contrast, NEC's technology — although still in testing phases and expected to be released in 2016 — is reportedly able to work on even tiny objects such as dice or bolts where it's more difficult to spot a serial number or barcode.

The project works with photos of original products saved on its database and compares them with photos taken by users. The precision level is impressively high: just one error in 1 million.

According to Toshihiko Hiroaki, senior manager at Central Research Laboratories, the innovation will offer businesses new opportunities in the biometric systems market. But it will mean hard times for counterfeiters, who in Italy alone generate about 6.5 billion euros ($8.1 billion) annually.

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LGBTQ Plus

Mayan And Out! Living Proudly As An Indigenous Gay Man

Being gay and indigenous can mean facing double discrimination, including from within the communities they belong to. But LGBTQ+ indigenous people in Guatemala are liberating their sexuality and reclaiming their cultural heritage.

Photo of the March of Dignity in Guatemala

The March of Dignity in Guatemala

Teresa Son and Emma Gómez

CANTEL — Enrique Salanic and Arcadio Salanic are two K'iché Mayan gay men from this western Guatemalan city

Fire is a powerful symbol for them. Associated with the sons and daughters of Tohil, the god who bestows fire in Mayan culture, it becomes the mirror and the passage that allows them to see and express their sexuality. It is a portal that connects people with their grandmothers and grandfathers, the cosmos and the energies that the earth transmits.

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