Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Fitting Room Revolutionized

Imagine never having to try on another article of clothing at a store again. Sounds crazy right? From online to offline, augmented and virtual reality is transforming the fitting room experience for consumers. Retail leaders are confident that virtual reality will change the way consumers interact with brands. One company in particular is revolutionizing the fitting room both online and in store. Fits.me’s technology helps online shoppers visualize how an item of clothing might look on them by taking into account their personal body measurements.

Shopping online is extremely convenient, but when it comes to trying on clothing and sending an unwanted item back, it can be a hassle. If a consumer knew that the piece of clothing they were buying would be a perfect fit, the more likely they would be to buy it. By allowing shoppers to ‘experience’ an item more personally, research suggests they are more likely to make a purchase. Many consumers are skeptical about the virtual fitting room. They are unsure if it will get the perfect fit.

Virtual fitting rooms requires the user to submit their own measurements to create a representation online. Websites like Fits.me and Metail are creating platforms for consumers to try on and buy clothing online. For example, Acustom Apparel is a US-based startup that offers ‘digital bespoke menswear’. Using an in-store scanner, it creates a digital profile of your entire body shape from 200,000 data points. The resulting 3D body model, combined with the customer’s choice of fit, materials and features, enables the company to produce entirely bespoke items of clothing. The entire process takes roughly 15 minutes.

At the end of 2014, Nordstrom adopted the tech-enabled fitting rooms by rolling out a full length mirror-cum-interactive screen in two of its stores. The “mirror” is designed by eBay, and allows the customer to browse through items and read product reviews, much like being online.  It also features a barcode scanner to check in-store availability and lets shoppers request items to be brought to the fitting room.  Shoppers don’t even need to go through the hassle of undressing. With the use of augmented reality, virtual clothing can be superimposed onto the shopper.

While the technology for this may seem to fall short of the real-life shopping experience of truly wearing an outfit, it enables faster turnaround times for busy shoppers.  The biggest benefit for retailers is an almost limitless inventory, unrestricted by the store’s actual stock. Virtual and augmented reality in fitting rooms still has a long way to go, but more and more retailers are adopting the idea. Soon malls and brick-and-mortar stores may all have VR fitting rooms.

Melomics Music Composition

When considering art, one must at some point or another question it’s origin and what makes it so special.  Some people believe art comes from something beyond our comprehension; a higher power of some sort.  Others believe that art at its core is a very human thing.  No matter what you believe, Artificial Intelligence has the potential to disrupt your current philosophy and force you to reflect on what it all means.

In 2014, Melomics released 0music – an album composed by an artificial intelligence named Melomics109 without any human intervention whatsoever.  You can watch and listen to one of the songs from the album here.  Now, the music isn’t anything special; it’s no Mozart or Beatles.  However, it’s lack musical greatness doesn’t take away from the magnitude of the step taken.  As we’ve all learned from studying disruption innovation, most disruptive innovations start out unimpressive; that’s why most people don’t pay attention until it’s too late.  As a musician who has studied disruptive innovation, this scares me.  I’m scared of the potential that an AI can reach not just musically, but across every genre of art.  There are even instances where AIs are writing film scripts.  Again, they’re terrible, but that’s not the point.  The point is that it’s a step and a giant one.

There are multiple reasons why this scares me.  I’m scared of an obstacle that I think humanity will face and has faced repeatedly in history.  It’s the same obstacle we faced when we learned that the sun did not revolve around the earth.  When AI achieves a level of artistic creativity that leaves us in awe, I think we will all question how special humans really are.  As of right now, art is very much a reflection of our experiences, and often times an extension of who we are.  When we like a song, we feel connected to the artist – it’s all very grounded in relationships.  How will that change when something that isn’t human does the creating?  What is there to connect with?  I’m also scared because humans are very creative.  We love it! If we didn’t, then there wouldn’t constantly be new innovations, music, movies, etc.  What are we going to do when we don’t have to create anymore because we have machines doing it for us? How will we adapt?  Lastly, to refer back to the question from the beginning of this post: “Who do we owe this tree to?”  I think the evolution of AI will make answering this question even more complicated.