Warby Parker Has Introduced a Virtual ‘Try-On’ Feature

The brand that upended the traditional retail model by allowing consumers to order glasses online, select which pairs they wanted and send the others back, is changing the way consumers purchase glasses again.

New investments in augmented reality have allowed the brand to launch its new virtual try-on feature, which uses Apple iPhone tech (iPhone X and up) to give customers a better idea of how their preferred glasses will look once on. To access the virtual shopping functionality, all users have to do is download the company’s app on a compatible device, choose a pair of frames and then swipe down to activate ‘virtual try-on’. The app will then open the iPhone’s front-facing camera and map the glasses on the user’s face with impressive detail.

Image source: Warby Parker.

As a consumer moves their face, the glasses will stay fixed in the correct place and will even reflect how the light filters through any acetate frames and how it shines on metal details. According to the brand’s Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Dave Gilboa, virtual try-on has been part of the company’s long-term plan since it first launched nine years ago.

“We’ve been patiently waiting for technology to catch up with our vision for what that experience could look like,” he said in a statement.

The retailer’s other Co-Founder, Neil Blumenthal seconded this statement, saying they didn’t want their use of AR to feel gimmicky.

“Until we were able to have a one-to-one reference and have our glasses be true to scale and fit properly on somebody’s face, none of the tools [available] were functional.”

It wasn’t until Apple released its iPhone X with its TrueDepth camera that the business felt confident they could do their products justice in an AR interface. The camera, which projects a mesh of roughly 30,000 infrared dots on a user’s face to create a 3D model of their facial topography, has enhanced the capabilities of app developers working within the virtual space.

Warby Parker’s new AR functionality is part of a crop of new app features that are changing the way users shop online and within the cross-channel retail space. IKEA for instance, allows shoppers to see what selected furniture would look like in their private spaces, while cosmetic brands like L’Oreal, Cover Girl and Sephora have also developed tech that allows users to virtually try on different makeup products/styles.

Offering a true-to-life virtual try-on option could prove beneficial for Warby Parker, minimising the number of frames being shipped to consumers and the amount of product being sent back. The AR feature will also prove fruitful for its stock levels, as in the past the company has cited product availability as a challenge, with so much stock circulating across the US at any given point in time.

So far, the virtual try-on feature is only available to iOS users and no details have surfaced as to whether similar functionality will be introduced for Android users.

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