When you're overweight, you try to avoid buying clothes from fast-fashion retailers that you know won't cater to your size. Hell, even if you aren't too big, stores like H&M don't make it easy to buy clothes, since their sizes bear little resemblance to what you're expecting. And since nobody wants to be reminded that they need to shed a couple of pounds, they tend to avoid those stores, which is bad for business. It's a problem that TG3D Studio is looking to remedy, albeit by handing out some hard truths along the way.
Gallery: Scanatic hands-on | 12 Photos
Gallery: Scanatic hands-on | 12 Photos
TG3D Studio is the startup behind the Scanatic 360 Body Scanner, a changing room-sized infrared body scanner. The demo version here in Taiwan is clad in piano-black plastic with neon lights, and it wouldn't look out of place in the sort of trendy clothes stores that normal people don't visit. But that's just for here at Computex: Other editions can be retrofitted into regular changing rooms in a department store or other retailer. The only differences are the plastic pillars in the corners that hide the infrared scanners themselves.
In order to test it out, I was asked to install the Cloudzet app from the App Store and connect it to the local scanning box. Once I had signed in with my Facebook account, I was asked to place my phone on a stand that sits in front of the mirror. The app then guides you through the process of standing up tall, feet apart, with your hands out wide. There are a pair of side-mounted handles that you're asked to grip to make sure you're in the right position for the scan.
TG3D says that the data is collected and stored on your smartphone and that it won't hold copies of your measurements. Plus, since you're expected to do the scan in your underwear, it's probably for the best that those pics remain in your care. The scan itself takes a couple of seconds, and then it takes around 30 seconds for the system to crunch the data and show you a rough 3D avatar. Tell it your height and weight and the app will then show your neck, shoulder, chest, bicep, torso, arm, waist, thigh, hip and inner-leg measurements.
Now, I do have the excuse that I was fully dressed during the test, so the measurements weren't entirely accurate, but they're a fair guide to my body shape. And as usual, the truth hurts.
After 30 seconds, which is long enough to have a hard think about your life choices up until this point, the app shows off its other big trick. TG3D has accumulated clothes measurements from a variety of retailers including Roots, Nike, Adidas, H&M and Zara. Combined with your vital statistics, the app can tell you what sizes you should look for in the store or online. And despite a George Costanza-esque preference for smaller sizes, the app told me I'm closer to a 2XL in most of those stores.
TG3D's aim is not just to bum me out but also to alter how clothes are made in the future. It is launching a partnership with Graupel, a Miami-based plus-sized women's fashion company. There, people can visit the office and use the technology to get a measurement for their hand-tailored outfit.
And there's plenty of opportunity to expand this proposition to any online tailoring service in the future. Imagine getting a measurement at your local mall and sending the details to get a custom outfit made anywhere in the world. That's not to mention that manufacturers could use the technology to help them make better clothes. Users only get a couple of data points, but a big company could get up to 120, which would help it create sizes that actually fit its customers. Given that Amazon -- which also has interest in body scanning -- is looking into building its own fashion empire, this is likely where the industry is headed.
So far TG3D has only installed 60 of these boxes, with the hope of adding on to every shopping mall or department store in the world. It costs around $15,000 per device, and if the end product is better-fitting clothes for everyone, that seems like a small price to pay.
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