Styku enables online shoppers to build a self-scanned avatar which will then try on the clothes they are thinking of buying.

Styku uses Kinect to provide online apparel try-on service

When Microsoft launched its Kinect camera in February 2012, the Windows company might have simply combined it with an Xbox to provide gamers with a more interactive experience. However, Microsoft decided to take a much broader approach. The firm launched the Kinect accelerator program, choosing eleven startups to work with Microsoft staff in Seattle to develop various software and products that use the Kinect motion gesture-capture technology. For example Atlas 5D provides an innovative solution for older people living at home, using Kinect to track changes in how the person is moving around in his/her own home in real-time, while respecting privacy and dignity. Kimetric uses digital displays and Kinect devices in stores to monitor store traffic and consumer interaction with products in real time. Meanwhile Los Angeles-based Styku set out to provide a much-needed service to online clothes shoppers. Many shoppers are hesitant about buying online as they are unsure of their size or of how the garment will actually look when they are wearing it, and would prefer to try before they buy. Now by using Kinect, Styku enables would-be customers to scan themselves and see whether the garment fits and suits them.

Scan yourself to create an avatar

Using Styku’s Kinect-based solution you can scan your body and find out your exact size for all clothing types and cuts. All you have to do to use the system is stand in front of the Kinect camera with raised arms for around five seconds while the camera takes measurements. Then the software takes about thirty seconds to convert the data into real measurements of your weight, size and leg length. Online shoppers can then “try on” different sizes and see how they fit their avatar. Styku also shows them where on their body a specific piece might fit tight, etc. There are of course other solutions for ‘trying on’ apparel online, but they do not use Kinect-type virtual body technology scanning, which created slightly more friction and makes them less precise for the customer. For example Metail, which has been integrated into the website of Tesco, the international retail group, offers a virtual fitting room where customers are required to enter their own measurements, from head to toe, and answer a list of questions on their tastes and the way they like to wear their clothes.

Increasing online conversion rate

We will no doubt see an increasing number of solutions of this kind incorporated into e-commerce sites. Styku has just begun a test program with US department store chain Nordstrom. Back in 2011, US department store Macy’s website had already incorporated a solution developed by startup True Fit, which asks the customer to enter their vital statistics manually.  Styku’s solution would appear to have good chances of charming the customers, who are much more likely to come back for more if they enjoy the experience and come to trust the outcome.  This should help online apparel retailers to overcome two related problems: the customer’s hesitation to click ‘buy’ if s/he is unsure that the size – even if known precisely – will be consistently right when it comes to buying apparel from different brands; and the substantial losses that retailers make when dissatisfied customers return a purchased item or, to be on the safe side, order multiple, up-and-down sizes and then return several of them for refund.