Fashion apparel website Tobi.com recently launched an augmented reality dressing room for their customers, allowing them to “try on” the clothing directly from the website and then save and share their fashion choices on the social networks Facebook through the “Fashionista Augmented Reality Application“. This is all done through the use of Flash based augmented reality programming, motion capture, and real-time personalization.
The developers behind this application are RichRelevance, a leading provider of next-generation personalization and product recommendation tools for enterprise-class eCommerce sites, like Sears.com, BassPro.com and Walmart.com, and Zugara which is a leading interactive marketing company that focuses on emerging media and technology. Zugara is also a member of the Augmented Reality industry’s “AR Consortium”.
Zugara introduced the first version of this application in June 2009, with their Youtube video example. Recently Tobi began using a customized version of this application for their customers. Tobi’s version is interesting in that not only does this application open up the doors to allow users to interact directly with the merchandise, but shoppers can also take a picture of themselves and their favorite looks by motioning over the camera icon within the Fashionista interface. The image can be saved and emailed to a friend for feedback, or easily uploaded directly to Facebook, where it is published to the shopper’s profile. A shopper’s friends will then see the image in their news and live feeds and be able to comment on it immediately.
“friends still play an important role in influencing consumer decisions. more than eighty-three percent of online shoppers said they are interested in sharing information about their purchases with people they know, while 74 percent are influenced by the opinions of others in their decision to buy the product in the first place. Zugara and RichRelevance are excited to give retailers a new way to connect shoppers with their peers, and make the online shopping experience more like the offline: social, personal and engaging.” said Zugara CEO Matthew Szymczyk
According to the press release, Fashionista creates a totally individualized and engaging customer experience from three core components of emerging media, technology, and eCommerce:
- Augmented Reality combines real-world and computer-generated data where computer graphics or objects are blended into real-time footage. With Fashionista, images of clothing are merged with live video of the shopper.
- Motion Capture recognizes and records an individual’s movements and integrates them into an on-screen model. With Fashionista, hand motions enable the user to virtually navigate backward or forward on-screen to select clothing, indicate preference, and take a photo.
- Personalized Clothing Recommendations deliver a highly engaging and individualized shopping experience based on the current shopper’s session as well as “wisdom of the crowds.” With Fashionista, a stream of recommendations that leverages multiple recommendation types is displayed and updated based on immediate user feedback on preference.
“My time leading R&D at Amazon confirmed the importance of continually innovating the customer experience,” said David Selinger, CEO of RichRelevance. “Apparel retailers are leading the charge when it comes to social media and online shopping, but they can’t afford to hold steady and stop investing in their shoppers. Fashionista is the next step in eCommerce: part ‘Webcam Social Shopper,’ part brand experience, part social tool, and totally integrated on RichRelevance’s personalized product recommendations platform to deliver measurable ROI.”
This is one of the first examples of Augmented Reality that I have seen that truly takes advantage of the overall experience. After spending a couple of hours playing with the site, application, and Facebook app, I see a ton of potential in this, and I am rather surprised that other online retail giants like Amazon and Zappos haven’t taken full advantage of this yet. Not only does this apply to online clothing retailers, but this has the potential to be applied to other hard goods as well. As the ubiquity of webcam deployment, and the adaptation of augmented reality for mobile devices continues to grow I see this kind of application really taking off. More over if done correctly this is the kind of application that has the potential to build brand buzz, from the cool factor that goes with it, and its hooks into social and viral networking.
Fashionista is available on the RichRelevance enRICH Personalization Platform and utilizes existing product data feeds and images. The application is built in Flash to provide users a seamless experience with no additional plug-ins and allows retailers to track the tool’s performance using existing analytics.