Shoppers create 3-D models of their own bodies online

A startup company established by a team that includes several alumni from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering (Cambridge, UK) has developed technology intended to help shoppers buy clothes online.

Shoppers create 3-D models of their own bodies on-line
Shoppers create 3-D models of their own bodies on-line

A startup company established by a team that includes several alumni from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering (Cambridge, UK) has developed technology intended to help shoppers buy clothes online.

By providing a few measurements via a web-based user interface integrated within existing e-commerce websites, Metail’s (London, UK) software allows users to create accurate 3-D models of their own bodies. These are used to make recommendations of garment size and to help users visualize how clothes will hang to fit the body.

Metail’s technology works by recovering a 3-D model from measurements provided by the user, for example some physical measurements like weight or height, a 2-D silhouette extracted from a photograph, or a depth image obtained by a Microsoft Kinect sensor.

In general the task of recovering a 3-D model from a limited set of measurements is difficult -- many possible 3-D body shapes could give rise to nearly the same set of measurements. However, by comparing the input measurements with a database of nearly 5000 male and female body shapes, Metail’s software can make confident body shape predictions given a relatively small number of measurements such as weight and height. More measurements make it possible to capture nuances such as column and pear body shapes.

So far, the company -- which was founded by University of Cambridge graduates Tom Adeyoola and Dr. Duncan Robertson -- has been successful in obtaining funding, launching a beta version of its product via Facebook, and expanding its team.

The company was established using investment capital provided by friends and family investors. Since then the business has raised more than GBP2m in equity funding from private individuals.

At present, Metail is initiating large scale commercial trials with Tesco, one of the UK’s largest retail businesses and a big name department store.

-- by Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

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