China Tech Giants Still Can’t Get Virtual Fitting Right

In 2015, Alibaba’s Tmall launched the experiment of online virtual fitting “MoDa” but has not been able to blossom.

It is said Alibaba partnered with a local startup Haomaiyi which is even able to mimic different fabric drape effects on different body matrices. Till this day, Haomaiyi remains to be Alibaba’s official vendor partner.

Soon in 2016, followed suit and rolled out the pilot project of “Goddess Fitting Room” (see video demo below) tested on small scale of apparel SKUs; again we must say not many online shoppers browsing on JD have ever noticed such functionality.

Today virtual fitting has been a minimal presence via e-commerce but been deployed widely in those “magic mirrors” installed in the brick&mortar stores to cater the hot buzz “New Retail Innovation” (we reached this conclusion in it).

Though online virtual fitting has been the half-hearted the effort initiated by e-commerce behemoth, many mobile phone manufacturers may begin to embrace it whole-heartedly.

Latest Huawei phone boasts about “AI smart shopping” and “scan now and buy similar” features. In this scenario, virtual fitting for apparel might make perfect sense.

One startup DGene is hoping to tap into this opportunity. Founded in May 2016, DGene started off by offering light field technology in 3D-construction, in particular, applied to museum antique objects for AR/VR content.  Recently the company raised RMB100 million from IDG Capital in Pre-Series A. Its seeding stage investors also include Alibaba.

Light field 3D reconstructions usually rely on complex scanning equipment, which in turn imposes high pricing hurdles. Now DGene develops a new approach, expanding the 3D technology into mobile phones via the camera for human face&body rendering.

GM of DGene China, Mr. Hong, revealed that they are now collaborating with Vivo, and providing the smartphone brand 3D solution and imaging modules. It is said in the next release of Vivo phone will include a built-in feature that:

  • Users can ask someone to use the phone camera take a 360-degree photo of themselves
  • A perfect 3D avatar and body shape can be instantly generated

Mr. Hong showed me below demo video:

In that way, phone brands can collect massive 3D model dataset, helping brands and e-commerce platforms to better understand their customers and provide personalized recommendations.

Of course for the 3D body virtually try on clothing, the apparel has to be in 3D form as well. According to Mr.Hong, its solution of 3D construction for apparel can be done within minutes but at the cost of RMB 200 per se. It is said Vivo is in talking with JD to push apparel advertising to phone users by leveraging DGene’s latest 3D technology.

DGene has been pitching the similar idea to leading phone manufacturers like HuaWei as well.

By: Cecilia Wu

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