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Self Service Apparel Fitting Technologies Grow in Stores and Online, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Virtual Fitting Rooms: This type of technology allows shoppers to try on clothing and/or accessories virtually using augmented reality (AR) and/or artificial intelligence (AI).  AR uses a webcam to scan a shopper’s body, thereby creating a 360-degree 3D model.  AI utilizes algorithms and machine learning to create a 3D model from a photo.  Models created in either way are combined with radio frequency identification (RFID) that scans products selected by the shopper.  The virtual fitting room overlays scanned products on the 3D model.
Zugara, Inc. (www.zugara.com) offers three virtual dressing room products:  WSS for Web, WSS for Kiosks and VSS for In-Store Retail.  Using web cams and Kinect (Microsoft’s motion-sensing device), Zugara’s Webcam Social Shopper (WSS) system enables online and brick and mortar shoppers to view images of themselves wearing different items or against different backdrops and share those images with friends via Facebook and Twitter.  WSS for Web is designed for ecommerce sites; WSS for Kiosks is for special event booths, in-store displays and out-of-home advertising; and VSS for In-Store Retail offers Virtual Style Sense technology that allows users to see themselves in various colors and styles of store merchandise in fitting room mirrors.  Zugara clients include Nordstrom, Ted Baker London, Barbie, Nokia, the Philadelphia Phillies and Major League Baseball.
Some retailers are creating their own software to build virtual fitting rooms.  Apple offers an AR platform called ARKit, which can be used to create such fitting rooms for iOS applications.
Another initiative, True Fit (www.truefit.com), makes purchase suggestions to consumers from about 350 different brands based on favorite items already in shoppers’ closets.  True Fit was founded in Boston by statisticians interested in decreasing the 20% to 40% return rate for online clothing purchases.  Rather than relying on measurements supplied by users, True Fit analyzes exact pattern measurements submitted by retailers.  Shoppers enter information about their favorite clothes, including brand style and size.  The system then matches those measurements with items available in participating stores and makes suggestions as to sizing.  True Fit’s retail partners include Macy’s, Kate Spade, Kohl’s, Lane Bryant, Academy and Ralph Lauren, and had surpassed 84 million users.
Interactive Smart Mirrors & Windows: Mirrors that assist shoppers in matching styles or warn shoppers when items do not match use touch screens that allow shoppers to access information about apparel items such as available sizes or alternative item suggestions and accessories.
Some mirrors utilize rear-projection that allows a shopper to stand in front of it while different outfits are projected onto the image (the shopper doesn’t have to actually try an item on).  China’s Alibaba uses smart mirrors in a store in Hangzhou that show customers how different cosmetics products would look without actually having to try them on.  Shoppers wave an attached wand over their faces to see their images.  The mirrors also display recommended products based on readings of wrinkles, pigmentation and skin moisture levels.  Product information is also displayed. 
In a related technology, store windows have the ability to display selected items on an avatar via a touch screen.  Shoppers can touch the window and use a menu to view a wide variety of items and combinations.  Intel’s smart mirror can alter the color displayed in the image when a shopper makes a particular hand gesture or display two looks side by side.  A recent study by the Foresight Factory reported that 35% of global consumers would patronize a store with interactive virtual services.
Companies that are active in smart mirror development include Evervue (www.evervuetv.com), which combines TVs and mirrors for a variety of uses.  Amazon holds a patent on a blended-realty mirror that uses a system of cameras, projectors, displays mirrors and lights to create images in real time.  Fitting rooms with mirrors and/or touch screens enable shoppers to view and request complementary items to be delivered by store staff, or possibly by small robots.
Store Technologies for the Future: Eco-friendly women’s clothing firm Reformation (www.thereformation.com) has opened a number of high-tech stores in the U.S. which have wall-mounted touch screens.  Shoppers choose merchandise to try on and behind the scenes staff assemble the items in fitting rooms which offer custom music and lighting selections as well as phone charging stations.  Customers can ping staff via the dressing room touch screen to ask for additional sizes or items.  The touchscreens gather valuable data about which styles are popular, how long shoppers spend looking at or trying on each item and which items were purchased and which were left behind.


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