Saturday, October 31, 2009

Online Shopping & 3D Body Scan

Back in June I wrote about a nifty online shopping experience that Zugara had developed to allow customers to "try" clothes on, online. Essentially by using an Augmented Reality interface between their site and a customers computer and webcam, Zugara are providing a service whereby you can see an Augmented Reality version of the clothes you're interested in, projected onto your image on screen. This of course followed the fantastic use of Augmented Reality by Glasses Direct in which customers can "try on" different glasses before purchasing them online. So here we have two great examples of real-world applications of Augmented Reality, and I mused, how long will it be before we can stand in front of our webcams and have perfectly fitting clothes delivered to us everytime we shop online? Think about it, it's just a case of software to determine your measurements, surely not something that would be too difficult?

So when I read on Revolution Magazine that the UK fashion company InnovaClothing has developed software that uses body scanners to capture a 3D image customers to produce perfectly fitting clothes, some part of me just wasn't surprised. This is the world's first online shopping service that features a 3D body scan to fit clothes to each customer's unique body shape.

Ok, so admittedly this isn't quite as far along as you'd hope; the service currently requires customers to undergo a consultation scanning session in Glasgow, where the company is based. Although they do have plans to roll out the service to new locations over the next two years. From that point, customers can log on to InnovaClothing's site to view their clothing collections and get personalised style advice from the company's image consultants to choose a style that suits.

It does however beg the question, how far away are we now from having the same service provided directly through a website?

This is a research project by the University of Cambridge called ProFORMA. It's only in the very early stages of development but already the results speak for themselves. This video shows how easy it is to scan an object with only a standard webcam. Considering that this is a conventional 2D camera it certainly may spell the end of super-expensive 3D scanners and open the doors to a whole new realm of customised clothes shopping online.


Lauren Fisher said...

Interesting post Christian, I hadn't heard of Innova before so thanks for sharing it.
Obviously I see your point that the technology is still a long way off, it is admittedly a fairly clunky process as it stands. But even when the technological barriers are removed, I wonder how comfortable people would be using a service like this? There are some areas where it is ultimately down to the physical experience and I think clothing may be one of them. I very rarely buy clothes online simply because I have to try them on, see the fit, the material etc.. Adoption of technology like this will certainly be slow but I wonder if it will ever be a replacement for the real thing?

Christian Hughes said...

Hey Lauren, I agree that for some people shopping online isn't a very regular thing but I thoroughly believe that they are the minority. The success of companies like ASOS and the fact that companies like Amazon have started selling clothing is a clear indication that people are shopping online for clothes in large numbers. I think as soon as the technology becomes available to have your exact size determined through your webcam to ensure that all clothes ordered fit perfectly, this number is only likely to grow. Though I suppose only time will tell...