A recent patent application to the Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) shows that e-commerce giant Amazon is attempting to revolutionise the way we shop for clothes. Since Amazon started 25 years ago, it has slowly and steadily transformed the way that people buy all kinds of products.

While this has long included clothes, there has always been the problem of customers wanting to physically try items on before making a purchasing decision. This remains one of the reasons people still choose to shop in brick and mortar High Street shops. However, the recent patent application describes using Augmented Reality to address this issue. The app will allow users to virtually try on clothes using an ‘mannequin’ avatar based on their own body. It will be made using data extracted from apps and postings on social media.

Patent application could be popular 

Clothes shopping has long been a popular part of online shopping for consumers. However, the fact that it’s impossible to physically try items on before ordering puts many off the process. Amazon’s potential app aims to take online shopping a step further.

The app searches online calendars, selfies, tagged photos, apps, video and any other data open to it on the user’s device. It then creates the customer avatar and offers the user clothing and accessory suggestions based on their interests and choices.

By using the customer’s own pictures and information, the app creates an Augmented Reality version of the user wearing the clothes they are thinking about purchasing. This eliminates the need for an in-person changing room.

The app becomes a personal shopper

It goes further than just offering similar items to those in the user’s own photos. It also analyses appointments in diaries, information from planning and dating apps and myriad other data sources.

This allows the app to build up a complete picture of the user, including their hobbies, friends, workplace, usual clothing choices, how warm or cold the weather is and what they like to do in their spare time. The app then comes up with outfit choices for specific events. For example, if the person is planning to go to business event and it’s in their calendar the app would show business attire on the customer’s avatar. Users can then swipe their likes and dislikes showing their preferences until the app comes up with exactly what they want.

The application was initially revealed by the Sunday Telegraph. It says: “… the number of images digitally captured continues to increase, in part due to arm’s length selfies.” The patent also describes how the app will allow users to randomise outfits, search for their own look and ask for alternatives. All the user needs to do is allow the app access to its data, in the same way that most apps request already. It then becomes their personal shopper.

The algorithm, according to the patent application, uses personal information that is “sensed or otherwise provided by the access device to determine the temperature or season in photos to predict what the user might want at any given moment.” For example, if the app determines that the weather is hot outside, then it will present the user with clothes suited to heat.

Revolutionary personal shopper app

Experts say that this could change the way we shop. Mark Howell, Creative Director at design agency Play Retail says: “The potential amount of data that this technology will be able to generate for Amazon is staggering. By having access to a customer’s photos, the retailer can see what they wear, what they drive and even inside their home to better predict what products an individual is most likely to want to buy.”

The USP for this app is that customers can ‘try on’ the items they’re looking at, albeit virtually. Neil Wilson, Chief Market Analyst for Markets.com, says: “… such an app could radically change the way we shop, potentially accelerating the shift away from the High Street.”

As well as encouraging users to buy clothes through its platform, Amazon would also expect it to reduce the amount of clothes that are returned. It’s common for customers to order numerous sizes and styles to try them on at home and send most of it back. This is arguably what has been missing for customers shopping for clothes online, and it could be very popular with consumers.

Amazon itself hasn’t yet commented on the speculation surrounding the application, and there is no indication that it will go ahead into a physical product. While this potential app may never see the light of day, it’s interesting to see where development is heading for the world’s most successful ecommerce platform as it continues to disrupt traditional shopping practises.

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