Right now, virtually trying on clothing is pretty useless, as anyone who's actually used such features can attest to. That's because it relies on a 2D clothing pattern from a manufacturer and then has to simulate how it might fit on your body. This tech works differently because it doesn't have to simulate how clothes fit on you. "Our approach is to scan a person wearing the garment, separate the clothing from the person, and then rendering it on top of a new person," says Dr. Gerard Pons-Moll, the project's principal investigator. "This process captures all the detail present in real clothing, including how it moves, which is hard to replicate with simulation."
The product, called ClothCap, uses 4D movies recorded using a scanner with 66 cameras and projectors to take full stock of the person being scanned. This allows the scanner to fully see how clothing drapes on a person's body and where it wrinkles. It also records how a body moves under the clothes and how the garment shifts accordingly. Once this data is analyzed, it's easy to separate the piece of clothing from the original body and use it in virtual try-ons. You can find the full paper on how the tech works in the journal ACM Transactions on Graphics.
It will probably be awhile before we see this technology on our favorite store websites; after all, it requires scanning models in many different poses, and that complicated camera system can't be cheap. Still, as retailers move from brick-and-mortar stores to selling clothing online exclusively, this would be a great way to help customers decide what exactly to buy.