New body scanner offers virtual tape measure for online shopping

Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:04pm EST
 
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By Chris Wickham

LONDON (Reuters) - British researchers have come up with a new body scanning device that gives accurate measurements and could boost online clothes shopping.

Shoppers are still nervous about ordering clothes online because they often do not fit and, some say, there will never be a substitute for trying something on - one reason why the boom in online retail has not had the same impact on clothing as on music, books and electronics retailing.

In the United States, for instance, the consultancy ComScore estimated that only 14 percent of online spending went on clothes and accessories in the year to June.

The new scanner is being developed by the London College of Fashion, video imaging researchers at the University of Surrey and the company Bodymetrics.

The company already has in-store scanners that use the motion sensors from Microsoft Corp's Kinect gaming device in Bloomingdale's (part of Macy's Inc) in the United States, Selfridges and New Look in Britain, and Karstadt in Germany.

Some firms, including Berlin-based Upcloud, are already offering home scanners that use a webcam, but the British developers say their system is able to measure in unprecedented detail.

Philip Delamore from the London College of Fashion estimates that 30 to 60 percent of clothes bought online are returned.

"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," he said.   Continued...