It has been a while since I have covered a subject that proved very popular in the augmented reality world: the virtual dressing room (VDR). At that time, this market was growing rapidly and many big names such as Debenhams, Bloomingdale or Tommy Hilfiger were already luring customers with a new ‘sexy’ and trendy technology. In the last few months the market became even more dynamic and AR developers are even more eager on getting there and building a strong name for themselves.
Focus on benefits, not on technology
This is one of the first lessons AR developers seem to have finally started to learn. There is no point in having the best technology if it brings no real utility to the end consumer. Following on this, the new AR dressing room experiences have become more intuitive and closer to an offline shopping trip by incorporating many real elements into programming.
This is the case with NICE, an Ukrainian AR start-up which has continued the work of others such as VIPodium and further developed on the natural physics of clothing. The 3D virtual garment follows your movement, turns with you and even reacts to your different body positions, all within a friendly user interface. Although not perfect – the fit between the garment and the model could be much better – the NICE fitting room is one of the closest to the real thing.
Make it available to everybody
If initially it was quite difficult to get your hands on an AR dressing room without having a substantial budget, now this option is almost widely available. When AR developers put their marketing hat on, they started proactively pushing their tools to advertising and marketing agencies and even creating self-contained ecommerce modules for content management systems. Promoted as the “world’s first augmented reality ecommerce platform module”, the Webcam Social Shopper (WSS) for PrestaShop allows e-tailers to integrate WSS into their online store quickly and easily, without the help of a developer. Although these may not be as evolved as the latest generation of developer-enabled virtual dressing rooms, it is definitely a step ahead towards a promising future.
Protect your investment
When the VDR is emerging as a profitable long-term investment and when an increasing number of companies are launching similar and sometimes even better products, how do you protect your investment? You apply for a patent.
This is the route Zugara has recently followed in order to protect one of their most successful AR products – the Webcam Social Shopper. The granted patent protects some of the core features of any virtual fitting room such as “the simulation of trying on one or more virtual-wearable items within a video feed, the ability to use gestural controls to navigate through the interfaces and take pictures to share with your friends”. This can only mean bad news for all AR developers who already have or are looking to launch a virtual dressing room.
While the patent only applies to US for now it remains to be seen if Zugara will try to get worldwide protection and if it will ask for a ban for all other similar AR products or for an expensive licence. We could be witnessing the smartphone battle all over again but this time in the augmented reality world and at a much smaller scale.
How do you think these latest developments will affect the virtual dressing room market? Please leave your comments and ideas in the box below.