/// Shopping in the Future: Glasses.com’s Augmented-Reality Fitting-Room App

February 28, 2013  |  All Things Digital


“Online shopping today is just a digital version of Sears catalog from 100 years ago,” according to Jonathan Koon, co-founder and CEO of 1-800 Contacts. “The days of putting a photo of a product up on a white background with a price are over.” So what’s the alternative? Koon and his team have developed an in-home augmented-reality shopping experience for glasses, set to launch in April as an iOS app for Glasses.com. There have been all sorts of virtual fitting rooms over the years, but this is pretty nifty. Glasses.com set up a hallway exhibit at TED in Long Beach, Calif., to show how a beta version of the product will work in people’s homes. This is a bit different from what I’d seen before, so using myself as a dummy/model, let me walk through what happens. First, you’d download the app and hold your iPad out in front of you with the front-facing camera on. You slowly turn your face to one side and then the other, while the camera captures some 300 to 450 frames. The app then isolates 15 key angles to build a manipulable 3D representation of your head. Then, you take the iPad and hold up a screen with a QR code next to your face in front of a mirror. This determines the size of your face so the app can effectively scale the representation. Koon described it as a sort of inverted augmented reality. “We’re using the virtual to calculate the real thing for first time,” he said. Then comes a sort of personal fitting room, with pairs of various glasses on your own face, which you can swipe back and forth to see from different angles. And then you’ll be able to pick and compare your favorites, ask friends to help you narrow them down, and purchase glasses within the app. That seems far preferable, argued Koon, to “asking a stranger on commission for advice.” Will people really download a full app just to make a single purchase? Koon admitted he’s not sure. But in his opinion, there’s a larger significance here. “The real story here isn’t virtual try-on of glasses,” he said. “The Glasses.com application will be to augmented reality shopping what ‘Toy Story’ was for computer-generated animated films.

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Shopping in the Future: Glasses.com’s Augmented-Reality Fitting-Room App


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