Virtual Dressing Rooms: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Mirror, mirror on the wall, what’s the coolest outfit of all? The enchanted mirror from the Snow White story that shows you more than a mere self-reflection is already reality. But what does augmented reality have to do with such an ordinary item? The virtual dressing room.
With so many business and marketing consultancy companies advocating the importance of customer interaction in the new online era, there is no surprise that many major fashion retailers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Debenhams and TopShop have rushed to get their hands on the technology that promises a new shopping experience. Whether the virtual dressing room is the Holy Grail of customer engagement is still debatable.
What Is a Virtual Dressing Room And How Does It Work?
Also known as a virtual mirror or virtual fitting room, this augmented reality tool usually combines at least two technologies: augmented reality and motion capture. Used mostly by clothing and glasses retailers, the technology allows a person to superimpose a virtual flat image of a garment over their body (as seen through a camera).
One of the first applications that made the headlines of many technology blogs and magazines was the Webcam Social Shopper from Zugara. Their first version ‘forced’ users to print an AR symbol and hold it in front of a camera so that the augmented reality software would recognise it and add the garment on top.
Sluggish and sometimes non-responsive, this has soon been replaced by newer technologies where the fitting of the clothing happens automatically within the live video stream. Motion capture technology then allows users to scroll through the catalogue, take a picture of themselves or try different outfits simply by pointing at the screen.
With greater access to lower cost augmented reality technology, different versions of the AR fitting room have been designed, ready to capture consumers wherever they are. These can be easily classified in three categories, depending on the locations where they are predominantly used.