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Virtual tape to revolutionize online apparel shopping
Dec '12
Virtual tape measurement, a groundbreaking web-based system that takes unprecedentedly detailed measurements of the body could revolutionize online readymade garment shopping.

The software is being currently developed by computer vision experts at the University of Surrey in collaboration with staff at the London College of Fashion, guided by the digital creative agency and body-mapping specialist ‘Bodymetrics’.

Professor Adrian Hilton, University of Surrey's Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP), told fibre2fashion, “In simple language, virtual tape measurement software recommends clothing size for online retailers”.

The shopper would simply download software which will work as a virtual tape measurement with the help of a webcam or a smart phone. It will take accurate measurement of waist, hip, chest etc., advising the user to buy the garment of their size whenever they visit any online apparel retailer.

Professor Hilton says, “It is unrealistic to expect online garment buyers to have the time or inclination to take a series of highly accurate body measurements of themselves. The virtual tape measurement makes it all easy”.

Taking multiple measurements of the body quickly, easily and accurately, the system aims to ensure the best possible fit and so save retailers and shoppers millions of pounds a year in return postage costs, as well as eliminating the hassle involved in sending back clothes that are the wrong size or fit.

Body scanning is already starting to make a mark in the clothing retail sector. But because the new system takes measurements at a number of different points on the body and combines these with a person’s overall proportions to build up a detailed 3D image, it offers much greater precision than anything else available in-store or online.

Moreover, most online shoppers currently buy clothes simply on the basis of waist size, for instance, or small/medium/large categorisation, whose accuracy is inevitably limited and often depends on the shopper’s subjective perception of their own body size.

The new system avoids these problems. 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.

To inform customers, a logo or and possibly a pop-up on the computer screen would appear on the websites of participating retailers. As slight variations often exist in the proportions of clothes with the same label size but produced by different manufacturers, retailers would also supply detailed information about the size of all their individual garments. The software would take this into account when recommending the size of a particular item for a particular shopper.    

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