New Body Scanner to Turn Smartphones into Virtual Tape Measures

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Posted 5 years ago

Having the ability to do your shopping online is undoubtedly a great thing; however, when it comes to buying clothes, the web has never quite been able to compete with the experience of going to the mall to try on clothes before you buy them. The reason for this is size. At the physical clothes store, you are able to try on garments until you get the right fit, but when it comes to shopping on the internet, picking out the correct size is not as straight forward and this makes consumers nervous. A revolutionary new body scanner that is being developed by computer vision experts at the University of Surrey in the U.K. in collaboration with staff at the London College of Fashion, body mapping specialists Bodymetrics, and digital creative agency Guided, aims to change online clothes shopping forever.

According to a press release put out today on Web Wire, developers say that the new web-based system acts like a ‘virtual’ tape measure that can take “accurate waist, hip, chest and other measurements and advising the user on which size garment to buy whenever they visit the website of a participating retailer.”

Here’s how the developers say the new system works:

Once they find the item they are interested in, the shopper simply clicks their mouse to activate the software, stands in front of their webcam or smartphone in their underwear, takes a photo, types in their height and lets the software do the rest. The photo remains entirely confidential and is not transmitted over the internet in any way. The height measurement gives the software the starting point for ascertaining the body size of the shopper.

Research firm ComScore recently found that only 14 percent of online spending went on clothing and accessories in the past year up until June. This new virtual tape measure could give shoppers the confidence they need to buy online without the worry of having to return items.

“It’s unrealistic to expect online clothes shoppers to have the time or inclination to take a series of highly accurate body measurements of themselves. The new system makes it all very easy,” says Professor Adrian Hilton from the University of Surrey.

Body scanning systems are already proving popular in clothing retail with scanners using Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensors found in Selfridges, Bloomingdale’s, and popular clothing brand New Look in the U.K., but the research team feel their new system is likely to be a significant improvement.

Plans are already in hand to market the new system and a launch is anticipated within two years. Until then shoppers will have to carry on with the method of buying two or three different sizes of the same item until finding one that fits!

– Anthony Carter

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