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Something to think about... / blog
The Virtual Dressing Room

Written by on September 18, 2008

The fashion industry is one of the fastest moving businesses in terms of new trends, but the new trends are mostly in the details. The colors, the material, and the dimensions - that sort of thing. It is actually quite rare to see new innovative things designed specifically for the fashion industry.

But here is one new development, which has actually been underway for many years - the virtual dressing room. It is a place where you can try out new clothes, shoes and accessories without actually having to go to the store and physically putting it on.

Here are a couple of examples:

First let's look at what this looked like back in 2006. Back then, the clothes was merely put on top of the person standing in front of the mirror, but it didn't fit to that person, or moved as the person moved around. It was an interesting early concept, but not good enough to be usable.

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Today this technology has progressed to something much more realistic and usable. In this example from Fraunhofer, you can change the color and the print of the t-shirt - and it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the real t-shirt and the virtual one.

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Here is another example with a shirt.

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Microsoft Research has developed something similar which is currently a part of one of the many attractions at Disneyland California. Here girls can dress up as a princess in front of the "magical mirror". And, while this does look a bit "computerish", it is interesting how it moves around and interacts with the person. This is not just a static image. This is "virtual" and "reality" mixed together.

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(see the full presentation of Disney Innovations Dream Home)

Updated: October 13, 2009 - Cisco demo

Cisco recently revealed their idea of a virtual shopping room.

And finally, at the Adidas Innovation Center in Paris, the concept of virtual shopping is taken to the next level. Here you can create your own custom made shoe, design it, and try it on, all using a virtual experience.

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What is the future perspective

This technology is something I think is very interesting. Not only can it give us a much more flexible and personal shopping experience, but there is also a huge potential in other areas.


For one thing there is a huge marketing potential. Imagine that these virtual mirrors were put, not inside the shops, but outside of them - in the streets. Then when people walk by they will see themselves wearing a different set of clothes.

Combine this with background animations, and you could see yourself, as you walk by a store, wearing a cool skiing jacket walking in the snow covered Alps.

This could take interactive billboards to a completely new level. Creating a unique and personal advertisement for each person that happens to be near it.

Note: And you don't have to worry that a man is suddenly being displayed in a woman's dress. The technology that distinguishes between a man and a woman has existed for many years.

Online shopping

Another interesting potential is with online shopping. Besides music, software and books, clothes are one of the top things we buy online. The only thing that is holding it back is that people cannot try it on first.

With this technology you can (in a few years).

You would simply walk up to a mirror in your home and buy clothes from there. The mirror will allow you to try on all the clothes you want, and using a 3D camera it also takes your measurements so that you always orders the right size.

There are still a lot of things that can be made better. But the whole field of augmented reality (as it is called when you mix real life with the digital world) is extremely interesting.

(via YouTube, On10, Adidas, Fraunhofer and LabConfidential)

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.


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