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INESC TEC helps create "Shop of the Future"

What if you could try on clothes without having to undress? What if you had a virtual assistant that would give you information on different outfits according to your profile? This is now possible thanks to the Smart Fitting Room.

Project provides technology to Textile and Clothing sector

Inserted in the concept of “Shop of the Future”, and developed as part of the action programme of the Cluster for the Competitiveness of Fashion, the project has originated technologies that will improve shopping experience without disregarding the economic impact. For the project, INESC TEC developed an intelligent management software for the point of sale and the interoperability system.

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“Magic mirror” allows you to try on clothes virtually

Inserted in the Cluster for the Competitiveness of Fashion, the mobilising project PT21 - Power Textile Século XXI aimed to develop innovative activities and highly technological projects, with an international focus and visibility for the textile and clothing industry.

In a partnership between 42 organisations, including INESC TEC, the project was supposed to focus on the point of sale, providing innovative concepts technology that would make it possible to transport the personal context to the shop. This is done in an interactive and intuitive way, which makes shopping a differentiating activity.

The project, which is now being finalised, has led to the creation of the technology “Smart Fitting Room”. This technology provides different functionalities which represent advantages to both the company and the client: virtual assistant, catalog navigation, trying on clothes virtually, interface customization, integration with social networks, integration with ERP (information system that includes all data and processes in an organisation).

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One of the most interesting features of the new technology is the “magic mirror”, which allows users to try on clothes virtually. Based on the latest computer vision and computer graphics technology, this mirror enables man-machine interaction, where the users just have to move their arms. This “magic mirror” allows the users to see themselves in the “mirror” wearing different items of clothing. “Using innovative concepts and technologies, the goal is to allow the personal context to be transported to the shop environment, in an interactive and intuitive way, thus making the act of shopping a differentiating experience”, states Nelson Alves, the researcher at the Computer Graphics Centre (CCG) who led the project.

System developed at INESC TEC allows users to move around the shop in real time

INESC TEC was one of the institutions that helped develop the “Shop of the Future”, namely the Intelligent Management of the point of sale – a system that allows the shop manager to visualise in "real time" what is happening in the store, and also provides a set of business indicators to support decision-making when defining new collections -, and the Interoperability System – the platform that allows the different systems that compose the shop of the future to exchange information. It is in this Platform that the information flows required by each system are designed when a certain event is detected (for instance, when a client enters or exits the shop or the dressing room, or when an item of clothing moves around the different intelligent shelves in the store). Rui Diogo Rebelo, Carlos Soares, Catarina Félix and Pedro Ribeiro, researchers at INESC TEC’s Centre for Enterprise Systems Engineering (CESE), were responsible for designing the two solutions for the “Shop of the Future”. 

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The project was presented to companies at CITEVE - Textile Technology, in Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal. CITEVE promoted the “Shop of the Future”, and together with the CCG, it developed the interactive changing rooms and the body scanning technology. The project was supported by Ubisign, Creative Systems and Tetribérica which, complementarily, contributed to designing the client empowerment system, the shop-warehouse logistics via RFID and the smart event in-store via RFID.

The project is part of the action plan of the Cluster for the Competitiveness of Fashion – PT21 Power Textile Século XXI, funded by COMPETE, QREN and the European Union. The next step is to apply the concepts and technology developed in a shop.

The INESC TEC researchers mentioned in this article are associated with the following partner institutions: FEUP and INESC Porto.

Photo credits: CITEVE

INESC TEC, December 2014

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