New augmented reality softwares are arriving every day to help retailers convert more online users. Now, CSIRO is attempting to take the field with Smart Vision.
Australia’s national science agency (and the group that pioneered WiFi), CSIRO has today announced a series of patents its has filed for the new Smart Vision research. Aiming to become the ‘virtual change room’, the technology is able to translate 2D images into a 3D virtual construct.
Via its Digital Productivity and Services Flagship, CSIRO has already exclusively licensed Smart Vision technology to US-based online eyewear retailer, Glasses.com, which has incorporated the technology with a mobile app. The interactive app more accurately shows customers how their glasses will appear through the use of CSIRO’s research.
“While pictures can tell us a thousand words, they certainly don’t tell us the whole story,” said Simon Lucey, Group Research Leader for CSIRO’s Digital Productivity and Services Flagship.
“Our computer modelling experts have developed a more accurate and reliable way to create a 3D scan of a person’s face using newly developed algorithms that can turn 2D images from a mobile camera into a 3D model of the face. The technology calculates size so unlike other virtual try-on technologies, customers can try on and view products from any angle — perfectly scaled to their face.”
For Glasses.com, the software is applied so that the app can produce a realistic 180° view of the user’s face, while rendering the selected pair of frames on top of it. The user can then reposition the glasses higher or lower on the bridge of their virtual nose, just as they might in real life.
“We didn’t want to just replicate the offline shopping experience – we wanted to improve it. Throughout the development stages, we’ve worked to create a tool that’s so true-to-life it’s not only fun, but actually useful in making a purchasing decision,” said Jonathan Coon, CEO of Glasses.com’s parent company 1-800 CONTACTS.
“Up until now, augmented reality was something of a parlour trick. It was fun but just not accurate or easy enough to be useful. Our hope is that the Glasses.com app will be to augmented-reality shopping what ‘Toy Story’ was for computer-generated animated films – it’s just the beginning,” he said.
Possibly the most exciting element of this news is the fact that CSIRO has once again developed a technology that could have broad and positive ramifications for a local industry. Depending on whether users accept it and how it continues to be licensed to retailers, we may soon find that Australian online retailers now have a true point of difference to offer local consumers. For the same reason, it is therefore a true shame that CSIRO chose to first offer Smart Vision to a US-based company.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been quick to recognise the same potential in this technology, with Executive Director Russell Zimmerman taking the opportunity to remind retailers they need to embrace new technologies if they are to develop a sustainable operation.
“Retailers need to move to hybrid business models that combine the strengths of today’s online and bricks-and-mortar strategies,” said Zimmerman.
“With predictions that by 2025, a leading retailer will make $106 billion more in sales and sell 40 per cent of its goods online, it is becoming increasingly evident that success will be driven by how effectively retailers can harness the power of new technologies to deliver unique value to customers with the speed, efficiency and ubiquity they demand.”
What do you think of CSIRO’s Smart Vision? Is this truly unique compared to other examples of Augmented Reality softwares available on the market?