Shoppers to try on items virtually
A "magic mirror" is set to revolutionise online shopping by allowing consumers to try on clothes virtually using a personal avatar, developers have said.
Engineers have created a prototype which enables users to form computer-generated representations of themselves to gain an impression of how items would look when worn. Shoppers could then browse websites with the model to find garments that fit correctly or complement their skin tone.
Developers believe the technology could benefit both customers and retailers by reducing the number of returns on clothes bought online.
The prototype works with a camera which enables the avatar to mimic a shopper's movements when standing in front of a computer screen. This allows the consumer to examine an item from all sides and decide if it fits correctly.
Developers hope the concept - dubbed the Magic Mirror - will eradicate problems associated with sizing which can differ significantly from one brand to another.
The prototype avatars - from technology firm Intel - are created by inputting a series of measurements and would allow users to adjust hair colour and skin tone. Engineers envisage shoppers taking their models from shop to shop as they browse the internet.
An Intel spokesman said: "This is likely to save money for both consumers and retailers. It should mean fewer products are shipped to customers and then returned. Retailers will be able to manage their inventory better while it could save on trips to the post office when items don't fit."
Developers were unable to give any idea when the avatar would be brought out.
The prototype was unveiled at the Intel Future Showcase event in central London.
Other innovations on show included a 3D Face Log-on system which allows a user to fire up a computer using their face as the password. Developers believe this is the first time the concept - which already exists in 2D - has been trialled in the more secure 3D form.