New body scanner offers virtual tape measure
London, November 21, 2012
British researchers have come up with a new body scanning device that gives accurate measurements and could boost online clothes shopping.
Shoppers are still nervous about ordering clothes online because they often do not fit and, some say, there will never be a substitute for trying something on - one reason why the boom in online retail has not had the same impact on clothing as on music, books and electronics retailing.
In the US, for instance, the consultancy ComScore estimated that only 14 percent of online spending went on clothes and accessories in the year to June.
The new scanner is being developed by the London College of Fashion, video imaging researchers at the University of Surrey and the company Bodymetrics.
The company already has in-store scanners that use the motion sensors from Microsoft Corp's Kinect gaming device in Bloomingdale's (part of Macy's Inc ) in the US, Selfridges and New Look in Britain, and Karstadt in Germany.
Some firms, including Berlin-based Upcloud, are already offering home scanners that use a webcam, but the British developers say their system is able to measure in unprecedented detail.
Philip Delamore from the London College of Fashion estimates that 30 to 60 percent of clothes bought online are returned.
"It's common for online shoppers to order two or three different sizes of the same item of clothing at the same time as they're unsure which one will fit best," he said.
With the new system, a shopper inputs his or her height as a reference and can then take a single full-length picture with a webcam or smartphone from which all their other measurements are calculated.
It uses the measurements combined with a person's overall proportions to build a 3D image.
Combining this with sizing information from retailers, the system would also overcome the problem of variable sizing, which can mean a shopper is a "medium" in one store but a "large" in another.
The technology builds on previous work by the University of Surrey that was used to create animated characters in games like the Sims.
Adrian Hilton, who is working on the technology at the University, told Reuters that while some shoppers may still enjoy the experience of browsing in stores and trying on clothes, for others an improvement in the reliability of shopping online will be welcome.
"For the male market, I think we're there," he said. - Reuters
More Analysis, Interviews, Opinions Stories
- Arab Spring boosts demand for bulletproof cars
- Syria healthcare system bleeds as newborns freeze to death
- Majority of women in news media suffer abuse
- Taking the strain out of Gulf-US flights
- Missing jet: Rarest of aviation disasters
- Middle East leads drilling boom
- New engine, new rules and new sound for F1 in 2014
- Qatar rift a pivotal test for GCC
- Lufthansa to offer in-flight movies on smartphones
- Gulf's rift over Qatar may slow investment, reforms
- GCC insurance industry on a stable footing
- Turning charisma into cash: Bernanke's 40 minutes
- 'Healthy' role for private sector needed
- Riyadh, Jeddah among world’s cheapest cities
- US oil export ban could be lifted piecemeal
- Bill Gates with $76bn is world's richest again
- Mideast leads global luxury shopping spend
- ME firms facing ‘record level of cyber attack’
- Clubbing business with leisure and community work
- $27bn capital shortfall facing regional banks
- Obama, wary of foreign crises, faces new Ukraine test
- The brief reign of bitcoin's top exchange
- Iran's fleet back in business as exports pick up
- New food labels to combat obesity
- Dubai says has learned lessons from crisis
- Mt Gox bitcoin customers' money 'virtually gone'
- Now, Bond-style Smartphone from Boeing
- Top trends in workforce management for 2014
- Syrian exporters try to revive businesses
- Saudi spending potential narrowly based