It’s For You

Ad­vances in the prod­ucts’ cam­era tech are fu­el­ing a wave of per­son­al­ized prod­ucts.

WWD Digital Daily - - Front Page - BY ADRI­ANA LEE

A grow­ing cadre of com­pa­nies is us­ing smart­phone cam­eras as scan­ners to en­able be­spoke prod­ucts.

There’s a new kind of cus­tomiza­tion trend tak­ing hold, and the key is al­ready in ev­ery­one’s pock­ets and purses.

Ad­vances in mo­bile tech­nol­ogy are driv­ing a wave of per­son­al­ized prod­ucts. Smart­phones have be­come so pow­er­ful, and their cam­eras so good, that they can do much more than take self­ies and fill an In­sta­gram feed. A ris­ing tide of com­pa­nies are putting these de­vices to work as scan­ners to en­able be­spoke prod­ucts.

Any­one with a phone can scan their face, feet or body, and or­der up per­son­al­ized glasses, san­dals and ap­parel.

And the op­por­tu­nity is mas­sive. Ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter, the share of Amer­i­cans who own smart­phones has risen to 77 per­cent, up from 35 per­cent in 2011.

Com­pa­nies like Wiiv have got­ten the memo, and they’re putting the phone cam­era at the core of their busi­nesses.

“We use mo­bile apps to snap pic­tures of your feet, turn these im­ages into 3-D mod­els and then use these mod­els to pro­duce cus­tom fit in­soles and san­dals,” said Aron Trem­ble, a for­mer HP Inc. ex­ec­u­tive who now runs mar­ket­ing and part­ner­ships for Wiiv.

“We ex­ist be­cause we’ve proven in the lab and the mar­ket that when footwear is made to the ex­act spec­i­fi­ca­tions of your feet, with just the right biome­chan­i­cal sup­port in just the right places, you will feel, move and live bet­ter,” he said.

Wiiv’s pro­pri­etary sys­tem con­nects mo­bile im­ages and 3-D print­ing to cre­ate cus­tom in­soles and san­dals on de­mand and ac­cord­ing to in­di­vid­ual spec­i­fi­ca­tions. To date, the com­pany has pro­duced seven apps and six cus­tom footwear prod­ucts across its own brand, as well as part­ners. The com­pany has raised $7.5 mil­lion across three fund­ing rounds, ac­cord­ing to Crunch­base.

As for which par­tic­u­lar mo­bile tech­nolo­gies are fu­el­ing Wiiv’s busi­ness, Trem­ble sin­gled out el­e­ments of com­pu­ta­tional pho­tog­ra­phy, such as chips, lenses and soft­ware. “With­out this, we could not man­age in­tel­li­gent cap­ture, mea­sure­ment and mod­el­ing,” he said. “Our lat­est apps sense what is in the frame, warns cus­tomers when the com­po­si­tion isn’t right, de­tects prob­lems with im­ages in real time, and snaps the pic­ture when it looks good.

“Think mo­bile check de­posit trans­lated to your feet,” he said.

At this point, Wiiv is eye­ing the 3-D cam­era move­ment, and Trem­ble seems ex­cited about Ap­ple’s TrueDepth, which made its de­but last year in the iPhone X, and In­tel Real Sense. Both cam­era sys­tems can cap­ture spa­tial depth. Con­sumers may be fa­mil­iar with the tech­nol­ogy, whether they know it or not. It’s part of the rea­son iPhone por­traits can of­fer depth of field, show­ing the sub­ject in crys­tal- clear fo­cus against a blurred back­ground.

Ap­ple and Google have made depth of field a hot cam­era fea­ture, and that could be key for Wiiv and its ilk, which re­quire ac­cu­rate map­ping of the hu­man foot in three di­men­sions. How­ever, the com­pany is wait­ing to sup­port the tech un­til it be­comes even more com­mon­place.

The in­sole maker may be care­fully watch­ing TrueDepth’s devel­op­ment, but other com­pa­nies are rac­ing to in­te­grate with it.

New cus­tom eye­wear start-up King Chil­dren, which launched out of stealth this week, made its de­but with in­te­gra­tion for Ap­ple’s lat­est cam­era hard­ware.

Af­ter all, prop­erly fit­ting eye­glasses must ac­count for things like flat or pro­trud­ing nose bridges, dif­fer­ent face shapes and other phys­i­cal fea­tures. How­ever, 3-D-map­ping a hu­man face is no easy feat, which is why the com­pany needed the lat­est cam­era and sen­sor tech with the big­gest like­li­hood of mass adop­tion.

The start-up hits the scene with a lofty mis­sion. “To­day’s one-size-fits-all ap­proach over­looks mil­lions of dif­fer­ent fa­cial fea­tures and struc­tures rep­re­sen­ta­tive of our world to­day,” said Sahir Zaveri, co­founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, in a state­ment. “At King Chil­dren, we em­body the val­ues of di­ver­sity, in­clu­siv­ity, cre­ativ­ity and self-ex­pres­sion, a cul­ture that em­braces our com­mu­nity and our in­fi­nite dif­fer­ences.”

It’s a timely mes­sage of in­clu­sion that ar­rives dur­ing an es­pe­cially di­vi­sive cli­mate in the U.S. But cul­tural com­plex­i­ties aside, the tech­ni­cal chal­lenge of de­liv­er­ing on that prom­ise looks just as com­pli­cated.

“With the front-fac­ing cam­era, it adds an in­frared emit­ter and prox­im­ity sen­sor that we use to 3-D scan faces with sub­mil­lime­ter ac­cu­racy,” Zaveri said in an in­ter­view. “From the vir­tual try-on ex­pe­ri­ence, we col­lect raw data from the True Depth sys­tem and have a com­pre­hen­sive an­a­lyt­i­cal process in place to garner an ac­cu­rate mea­sure­ment for ev­ery face.”

The process in­volves a lot of data pro­cess­ing and in­ter­pret­ing work in the back end. Ul­ti­mately, the goal is to make the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence more like a de­sign col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Cus­tomers can pick and tweak their own glass frames across an ar­ray of spec­i­fi­ca­tions — from the scale of the frame, lens height and lens width, to nose bridge, tem­ple length and pan­to­scopic tilt, among other de­tails. And, of course, they can choose col­ors, shapes and lenses, in­clud­ing UVA pro­tec­tion, po­lar­iza­tion and pre­scrip­tion.

“We’re putting the lat­est tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tions into the hands of ev­ery­day e-com­merce shop­pers through their fa­vorite piece of hard­ware — their phones,” said Zaveri, who has raised more than $2 mil­lion for King Chil­dren. “As an in­dus­try, we’re see­ing a trend of aug­mented re­al­ity go­ing mo­bile, but we’re tak­ing it one step fur­ther by em­bed­ding el­e­vated ca­pa­bil­i­ties into the core of ev­ery­thing we do.”

On the ap­parel front, some com­pa­nies are re­ly­ing on iPhones or An­droid de­vices for scan­ning pur­poses for things like fit.

Typ­i­cally, the at­tempt to ac­cu­rately read a shop­per’s size in­volves some cum­ber­some el­e­ment. That can range from tak­ing tra­di­tional mea­sure­ments, an­swer­ing lengthy ques­tion­naires, vis­it­ing a lo­ca­tion with a magic mir­ror, or some com­bi­na­tion. Start-ups like 3-D Look are us­ing the cam­era as a body scan­ner, along with AI and a vo­lu­mi­nous database of 200,000 fit pro­files.

Get­ting the wrong size is an­noy­ing in gen­eral. But for a cus­tom gar­ment, an ill fit can be es­pe­cially dis­heart­en­ing and costly for the con­sumer and the re­tailer. Cus­tom men’s wear maker M Tai­lor thinks that smart­phones can pre­vent that from hap­pen­ing: The sixyear-old com­pany be­lieves that to­day’s smart­phone cam­eras are 20 per­cent more ac­cu­rate than a pro­fes­sional hu­man tai­lor.

By re­cruit­ing cus­tomers (and their de­vices) as de­sign­ers and scan­ners, mer­chants are let­ting them par­tic­i­pate in the process. The ap­proach also gives shop­pers some­thing tra­di­tional re­tail can’t: in­di­vid­u­al­ity and unique­ness. That mat­ters in to­day’s re­tail, es­pe­cially for an In­sta­gram gen­er­a­tion that doesn’t want to look like ev­ery­one else.

For com­pa­nies, cus­tomiza­tion via the cell-phone cam­era of­fers a way to con­nect di­rectly with shop­pers and give them a per­son­al­ized prod­uct. Shop­pers get some­thing else as well — an in­surance pol­icy pro­tect­ing their dis­tinct look.

King Chil­dren of­fers cus­tom­iz­a­ble eye­wear that uses the iPhone’s TrueDepth cam­era to scan the face.

Buy­ing Wiiv in­soles and san­dals be­gins with shop­pers snap­ping pho­tos of their feet.

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