Online shopping has made buying clothes more convenient, but the need to guess the correct size still remains. This leads to returns, frustration, and wasted resources. Research conducted by the London College of Fashion and the University of Surrey, with additional help from some specialists, aims to tackle this issue with new 3D body mapping technology designed for use at home.

The project, dubbed “Body Shape Recognition for Online Fashion,” involves software being installed onto a home computer, after which the correct height of the user is entered. A webcam or smartphone then snaps photos of the would-be shopper in their underwear, and from these photos, the software calculates the relevant measurement details. The photos themselves stay on the computer and at no point go online.

The team posit that once the measurement process is complete, shoppers could be presented with a logo, or perhaps a pop-up on websites which support it, allowing a hassle-free exact match to be made.

"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 finer details of exactly how the Body Shape system works are still unclear, but the researchers did let slip that it’s based on tech which has previously been used to make software-based representations of real people for EA game The Sims. The focus is now on launching a completed product within two years and to this end, the team are working alongside body-mapping specialists Bodymetrics and digital creative agency Guided.

The project has received Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) UK government funding in the region of £350,000 (US$560,000). It isn't the only initiative of its kind, however – the and Verisize projects are also both aimed at taking the risk out of online clothes-shopping.

Source: EPSRC