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Engineering students create virtual trial room for spycam wary shoppers

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The Times of India | Subhro Niyogi | TNN | March 29, 2016 |

KOLKATA: Two computer science students, one from Kolkata and the other from Howrah, have developed a virtual dressing room that can help customers try clothes without the need to step into a trial room in an apparel store. Not only does it resolve the anxiety of hidden cameras, it also resolves the problem of queues at the trial room, particularly during pre-festive shopping season. Debajyoti Dey and Deepankar Sinha, classmates in a private engineering college, hit upon the idea after reading reports on Union HRD minister Smiti Irani discovering hidden camera in the trial room of a well-known apparel chain a year ago. Following the incident, women became wary of trying out clothes, leading to a temporary dip in apparel sales.

“Trying out a shirt or a dress before making a purchase is essential. Yet, people don’t feel comfortable stepping into cramped trial rooms that are usually located in a dingy corner. In many stores, security persons stand outside trial rooms and allow customers to try out only two-three dresses at a time. This often leads to frustratingly long wait. All these issues could be solved if customers could see how the clothes fitted without having to actually wear them. That could happen virtually. So we began to create a virtual dressing room,” said Dey, 3rd year BTech students at the MCKV Institute of Engineering in Howrah. Working on available technologies, the duo rigged up a Kinect sensor to measure a person’s body contours. The two also used a programme called Unity 3D to create virtual IDs or 3D models of clothes to be tried by customers. They then used another technology to merge the two images, allowing the virtual apparel to fit over the person’s body.

“A person needs to stand before the sensor that will take her or his measurements and process the data to create a virtual image. The person can then select any apparel and feed its virtual ID. The image of the person overlayed with the dress will then appear on a screen that we have named the magic mirror. In this way, a person can actually try out over a dozen dresses in a minute,” said Sinha.  He and Dey are now trying to create a proof of concept by installing the system in a boutique to check its viability for commercial use. They also need to do some fine-tuning for well-built customers, particularly those sporting a tummy. Once that is done, they will approach retail chains in malls as well as apparel brands to create an inventory of virtual ID for the clothes they retail.  The two also believe their system can be used online to reduce returns. At present, nearly 40% of the clothes purchased online are returned due to size and fit issues. “In the online service, a ‘try out’ gateway will be provided where a person can find out how exactly a cloth will look. All the person needs to do is upload her or his picture on the gateway,” said Dey.  MCKVIE director Parasar Bandyopadhyay is proud of the students’ innovation. “We have always encourage students to showcase their skills. Virtual Dressing Room is an initiative which we feel will become extremely useful while deciding on the clothes to wear,” he said.
Problems that virtual dressing room can solve:

Hidden Cameras in trial rooms

Standing in long queues for trial of clothes in the trial room.

Takes a very long time in changing dresses in conventional trial rooms

 40% returns from wardrobe purchased online. —-> Courtesy

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