There is one big problem with online shopping. You can't actually try out the goods until they arrive.
Now Fits.me has a sort of solution in the form of a FitBot. This is described as a robot mannequin although this particular robot moves in ways that have to be seen to be believed. Servo motors are used to move sections of the body in and out to create different body shapes. It is very eerie and slightly disturbing to watch!
The company created a male FitBot last year and it has now created a female version - a task that has taken longer because the female body has more variation than the male.
Before you start to speculate about real time control of the FitBot and how much fun this could be - I need to tell you that this isn't how it works. What happens is that the retailer places a garment - a shirt say - on the FitBot and then it is photographed in all of the reasonable body configurations. This is repeated for each size that the garment is available in, so building up a complete visual record of the body shape versus the garment size space. The images are then uploaded to the web site and the user is invited to enter body measurements that sets their FitBot dimensions and then they can see what they look like in a range of garment sizes.
This might not be the totally interactive experience you were hoping for but after trying it out it does seem to work. The UK retailer Hawes and Curtis is the first to try it out for women and claims that sales have increased by 57% and that people do choose sizes other than those indicated by a traditional size chart.
It's a clever idea but you have to wonder if the job couldn't be done by a 100% virtual reality system.
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