A patent issued on the first business day of the new year may herald a breakthrough in online fashion retailing.
US Patent 9,858,719 was Issued on January 2nd to Amazon Services Inc. It suggests the company is developing an augmented reality-type system consisting of a mirror, display and camera combination that allows individuals to virtually preview the look of clothing prior to purchase, and to do so while also virtualizing their locale.
The invention, as described, appears to go a long way towards solving the many issues pertaining to look and fit that tend to plague the purchase of fashion items online. Currently, these challenges tend to be resolved with a combination of generous return policies, brick-and-mortar storefronts linked to online offerings, and even support from remote fashion consultants.
Moreover, the company’s recent acquisition of 3D human-body-modeling startup, Body Labs, as well as Amazon’s multiple in-house clothing brands and other fashion-related initiatives, suggests they may be working towards dominating yet another industry.
In terms of revenue, the company may certainly see the fiscal motivation for such a move, considering the global apparel industry represents over $1.7 trillion USD annually, over ten times Amazon’s current revenue.
Actively modelling the look of products through a mirror-like system is not a completely new technology, however. For example, Canadian firm Modiface has developed a 3D video makeup rendering technology currently being used commercially by MAC Cosmetics and Walmart.