UK Startup Raises Game On Virtual Fitting Rooms

November 5, 2012 by Dave Haynes

A UK start-up has taken a more sophisticated, less gimmicky spin on the idea of virtual fitting rooms, and it’s the sort of thing that could have application not only online but on the sales floor of apparel retailers.

As TechCrunch reports, Metail is coming off a trial with Tesco and signing up retailers in the UK and beyond.

Rather than using webcams and gestures to try on virtual clothes in real time, Metail is set up so that shoppers  can upload full body photos of themselves, as well, as a head shot, and then tweak key measurements like waist, height and bra size, to build an accurate form. A 3D virtual mannequin.

“We’re the only people in the world who allow you to build accurate 3D versions of yourself from basic information and a photo,” says CEO Tom Adeyoola in a TechCrunch interview. “Metail’s competitors offer expensive robotic mannequins, web measurement tools and dress-up dolls but none have the “wow” factor that comes with creating a virtual you, with dress size and fit information so personally tailored.”

To pull this off, Metail doesn’t rely on CGI. Instead, each garment is professionally photographed and digitised so that they look “exactly” as they do in-store, surfacing “every wrinkle, pleat and fold”. However, getting that process to scale is quite an undertaking.

“One of the company’s key challenges has been to design a fast, cheap method of stocking the online fitting room with clothes. This means photographing garments and turning them into 3D digital images ready for customers to add to their MeModels,” says Adeyoola.

Undoubtedly, Metail and the small flock of other companies going after the virtual fitting room business, see the opportunity when women are in lean-back mode at home or killing a break in the office. But I could see this sort of thing finding its way into the sales floor, as well.

If you had a profile stored, and it could be loaded into an interactive screen in store via a loyalty card or online account, you could then load your image on a screen in a shop and speed your way through the filtering process and get outfit combination suggestions without need a sales associate around. While some people shop as recreation, I’d think there are a lot of women who have minutes, not hours.


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