Zugara’s virtual dressing rooms take the X factor out of online shopping

No matter how good a piece of clothing looks online, the reality often falls short. The joy of ripping open a package is destroyed when you discover that a particular shade of teal makes you look seasick or that leopard print jeans are a far better idea in theory.

Sometimes, you need to try things on to know if they are right, and this is a frustration shared by web retailers and customers alike.

Zugara was granted a patent today for its augmented reality technology that creates virtual dressing rooms for online consumers. The Webcam Social Shopper seeks to alleviate the element of the unknown from online shopping by enabling consumers to virtually try on clothes.

The platform generates a simulated view of what a wearable item will actually look like on your body using information from a web cam. The result is a digital mirror that reacts to gestures, motion, and voice controls, so you can twirl in your potential new party dress, or check out your butt in those shorts (no, it doesn’t look big).

Social shopping is also an element of the technology. Users can take pictures of their virtual ensembles and share them on their social networks.  Even further, the platform recreates the experience of shopping with friends. Multiple users, from multiple smart devices, can simultaneously browse, chat, try-on, comment.

“When you are going online to shop, you either see an item by itself or see it on a model that may not have your body type,” said CEO Matt Szymczyk. “You need to know how the item will really look on you, but it is not just about size. Shoppers want to see what colors match, how their skin looks in different garments, how a blouse will look with a pair of jeans they already own, and what their friends think.”

Often, the reason an outfit falls short is a certain je ne sais quoi. One ill-advised ruffle or latent fears of looking like a little boy could surprisingly make a purchase unwearable, and by the time you have dealt with disappointment and repacked the items for return, the convenience of online shopping is gone.

The team started out in the augmented reality space and realized that this technology could be powerfully leveraged to increase conversion rates for e-commerce providers. They developed the product into a tool that businesses can use to enhance her experience and drive sales. In July, European e-commerce platform PrestaShop integrated the Webcam Social Shopper, which brought its capabilities to 127,000 retailers.

According to their data, people who use WSS buy at 2 to 3 times the rates of “regular” shoppers, and engage with the site for longer periods of time. The direct clients of Zugara’s software are retailers and online apparel portals. For example, on the Barbie Dream Closet, the little girls can don a sparkly array of ensembles to see which strikes their fancy.

There are other comparable products out there, like Swivel, and even Cisco is developing a “StyleMe” product to play dress up in cyber land. However, this patent keeps Zugara’s technology protected, meaning they can publicly go to market without [a strong fear] of poaching.

While the primary intention may be practical (a la the effect of horizontal stripes on my torso), I am more interested in the entertaining options. For example, what do I look like in a Barbie lame princess gown? Or a silk kimono? Or a floor length Oscar de la Renta?

I may never get to attend the Oscar’s in real life, but I may be able to simulate what I would wear if I did.


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