December 7, 2006 Stride Rite, the leading US children's footwear retailer and manufacturer, has begun a trial to evaluate a 3D foot gauge, a system designed to produce highly accurate foot measurements. Foot gauges were installed in three Stride Rite stores in the Boston area earlier this month following the signing of an evaluation contract with UK company QinetiQ. Stride Rite has been making shoes in the US for over 85 years and operates a nationwide chain of nearly 450 stores. Last year we previewed Intellifit, an ingenious measurment system for clothing that could revolutionise the global clothing market. The 3D foot gauge could have similar long-term effects on the footwear market.
The agreement follows a UKP4.6 million contract earlier this year between QinetiQ and Clarks Shoes in the UK. Clarks is currently part way through a programme to install QinetiQ foot gauges in all of its UK and Irish stores, with some 250 units installed and in operation to date.
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The 3D foot gauge, which uses six 3D camera systems, is used to measure children’s feet quickly and accurately, providing highly detailed length, girth and shape data and helping to ensure the best fit possible. The recorded 3D data can also enable trend analysis, assisting future footwear design and improving stock control and the efficiency of in-store service. Stride Rite and other US footwear retailers currently use manual methods to measure customers' feet.
Jay Nannicelli, Senior Vice President of Retail Operations at Stride Rite, said: "We are committed to providing Stride Rite customers with the best shoe fit possible. This is particularly important with growing feet as a perfect fit is vital for the health and proper development of children’s feet. QinetiQ’s foot gauge uses cutting edge innovative technology to capture foot measurements and I am looking forward to exploring how this system might help make our current fitting service even better.”
The foot gauge is based on innovative 3D optical ranging technology developed and patented by QinetiQ. The origins of the technology can be traced back to work done for the UK Ministry of Defence on the detection of unexploded ordnance. The foot gauge captures data very rapidly and both feet can be scanned simultaneously, allowing store staff to decide quickly on best fit.
Welcoming the Stride Rite trial, Amanda Turner, Product Director at QinetiQ, said: “The 3D foot gauge is a true commercial success for QinetiQ, proving we can quickly transfer know-how derived from our work with the military into a purely commercial product. This Stride Rite evaluation contract represents a great opportunity to extend that success into the significant US footwear market.”
QinetiQ is currently discussing further evaluation of the foot gauge with a number of other international footwear retailers and manufacturers. Opportunities to apply the underpinning 3D measuring technology for the clothing retail market are also being actively explored.