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CES Feature Articles

January 05, 2011

Virtual Personal Stylist Hits 'Runway' at CES

Fitting rooms, messy makeup counters and endless lines are SO last season, with the debut of an enhanced retail solution concept that brings a rewarding, and fun, shopping experience to consumers in store and at home.

nG Connect Program members, under parent company Alcatel-Lucent, will take to the floor at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES (News - Alert)) being held this week in Las Vegas, to show attendees how up-and-coming high-bandwidth IP networks can help enhance new business models, through a demonstration of its compelling new shopping innovation, called the “Virtual Personal Stylist.”

The Virtual Personal Stylist -- which came to fruition with additional help from Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., Inc., Samsung (News - Alert), TelePresence Tech, VisionMAX and Vidyo – utilizes 4G/LTE connections, supported by interactive video conferencing and 3D image management software, to bring a new type of shopping experience to consumers.

“High bandwidth networks like the new LTE (News - Alert) networks being rolled out this year present tremendous opportunities for many businesses, but the retail industry particularly will find new possibilities,” said Steve West, vice president of Emerging Technology & Media at Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert). “Our Virtual Personal Stylist offers retailers an easy to deploy in-store or online solution that provides shoppers with professional styling assistance based on their online profile. The system offers improved convenience, and higher accuracy in sizing and color choices, all of which will increase purchasing confidence in online purchases and customer loyalty.”

CES attendees will have the opportunity to watch interactive fashion videos, get style tips from fashion gurus, and sample products on their “avatars.” Using white light technology, avatars are created for shoppers through an in-store 3D scanning booth. Once the shopper’s profile is saved in the cloud, it is accessible from any participating retail stores through a “mirror” operated by a Samsung Galaxy Tab, mobile device or kiosk, which is controlled by a touchscreen. Then, it’s time for the consumer to try on all the latest beauty products and clothing items.

Through a collaboration with three top names in the beauty industry – ELLE, L’Oreal USA and Bloomingdales -- models will “strut their stuff” at CES, without the use of an actual runway, of course. Instead, avatars based on ELLE models will demonstrate the Virtual Personal Stylist by scanning through an online clothing rack from Bloomingdale’s AQUA line, change shirt colors and even “try on” makeup, all with the touch of a button. In addition, avatars will show how they can access personal skincare preferences at a drug store and leaf through 3D versions of products by L’Oreal USA.

“Our new Virtual Personal Stylist concept illustrates how quickly retailers like Bloomingdale’s and brands like L’Oreal can deploy new ways to connect with customers, increase loyalty, and create new services and business models thanks to 4G/LTE networks,” said Robin Domeniconi, senior vice president and chief brand officer of ELLE Group for Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., Inc., the parent company of ELLE.

The Virtual Personal Stylist is yet another example of product developers taking a leap into the emerging augmented reality market. Back in October, Macy’s debuted a virtual fitting room at the popular shopping event Fashion Night Out in New York City, in which thousands of shoppers stepped in front of a 72-inch mirror – controlled by an Apple (News - Alert) iPad – to “try on” an endless selection of tops, dresses, bottoms and coats, as reported by TMCnet.

Other similar products on the market include MakeUpLive, an augmented reality virtual makeover tool for make-up application on the iPhone, and a “shape-shifting robo-mannequin,” which allows shoppers to enter their body measurements online and view photos of a mannequin shaped like them “trying on” a desired item of clothing for the perfect fit, according to CNET.com.

Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet copy editor. Previously she was assistant to the editor at The Darien Times, a weekly newspaper in Darien, Conn., where she edited submissions, did page layout and design and helped manage the newspaper's website. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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