Science safeguards art

In an age where copyrighting artistic work is everything, Entrupy is a one-of-a-kind effort in the same direction — it will make forging paintings practically impossible. Started by Ashlesh Sh

Published: 19th March 2012 10:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:38 PM   |  A+A-


In an age where copyrighting artistic work is everything, Entrupy is a one-of-a-kind effort in the same direction — it will make forging paintings practically impossible. Started by Ashlesh Sharma, Lakshminarayanan Subramanian and Vidyuth Srinivasan, Entrupy aims at foolproofing artwork, protecting its genuineness and providing verification on demand, using a non-invasive technique to fingerprint artwork and provide certification and verification.

Sharma and Subramanian take care of R&D and strategy and business guidance respectively. Subramanian, 31, assistant professor at New York University, USA, tells us why this is important: “The art market globally loses $6 billion a year due to issues related to forgery and theft. Preventive protection of artwork therefore is extremely essential and this is a completely unserved need across the world. Certificates always travel along with artwork and build credibility around the ‘provenance’ or origin of the artwork, helping increase the sale price of an artwork and also making a sale easier.” Auction houses, galleries and museums are the target customers of Entrupy. This technology and fingerprinting process is completely non-invasive (does not touch or physically alter the artwork in any way). Much like human DNA or fingerprints, paintings/canvases have certain characteristics — literally, one in eight trillion.

They use TextureSpeckle, a technology that is based on naturally occurring randomness on surfaces. It allows them to “optically extract the unique nature of a specific object based on its surface characteristics. Employing a mixture of microscopic imaging hardware and custom-built software, we extract these characteristics and store them in a secure cloud-based database which is accessible from anywhere,” explains Srinivasan, who handles marketing for Entrupy, leveraging on his experiences as a PRO earlier. This fingerprinting process that helps the artist, the gallery owner and the art lover, takes less than

10 minutes!

Subramanian and Sharma were working on the research in 2011 when they were introduced to Vidyuth Srinivasan by a common friend. Many brainstorming sessions later, they decided to collaborate. Combining the words ‘entropy’ from science and wanting to stay ‘true’ to unique objects, they came up with the name ‘Entrupy’.

They also have a mentor in Eric Brewer, co-founder of Inktomi, (provides software for internet service providers) which was bought over by Yahoo. He’s also a professor at UC Berkeley, USA.

They have spent around $60,000 on development and patenting, which is pending approval, and have launched in India and USA, with a strategy to enter a niche market and prove the product’s value in the market.

Sharma tells us, “Our business model sits on a cloud-based fingerprinting eco-system. We plan to build and deploy devices at various customers’ sites and also provide an advanced application programming interface with a usable front-end for our customers to do the fingerprinting and upload the signatures to the cloud. The customer is charged on each fingerprint uploaded or later verified.”

Till date they’ve tested the technology and learnt from experience with over 100 paintings across India and a few in the US as well. They also promise a highly secure and accurate inventory management system and a centralised repository of information that holds real-time information on artwork from around the world. We’re looking at a future of happy and secure artists, thanks to this trio’s efforts! Details at


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