You'll notice we didn't include any clothes items in our Geek Holiday Gift Guide 2012 or Black Friday 2012 and Cyber Monday Ads Round Up. It's because we're far more interested in dressing up our desktops than our waistlines (this isn't Maximum Fashion, after all), but had we included clothes, would you know which size to buy, especially after eating a pound or two of Thanksgiving turkey? (Happy Turkey Day to those of you who celebrate, and to the rest, Happy Thursday, as it were.) A new virtual tape technology might one day help you figure it out.
Building the software that will allow online shoppers to take accurate measurements at home with their webcam or smartphone is a group effort. With funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the software is being developed by the London College of Fashion and computer vision gurus at the University of Surrey, along with input from body-mapping specialists Bodymetrics and digital creative agency Guided.
"The potential benefits for the fashion industry and for shoppers are huge," says Philip Delamore from London College of Fashion. "Currently, it's common for online shoppers to order two or three different sizes of the same item of clothing at the same time, as they're unsure which one will fit best."
The software utilizes body scanning technology that takes measurements at a number of different points and then combines them with a person's overall proportions to build a detailed 3D image, EPSRC explains. It's said to be even more precise than taking measurements in a physical store.
To truly be advantageous, the technology would require the cooperation of websites, which would display a logo or a pop-up window to let online shoppers know they're participating. As for when this might come to fruition, EPSRC says it already has plans to take this new system to market, with an anticipated launch two years down the line.