Ingenuity on a Shoe StringTipping Point | June 28, 2012
We’re combing the country to find examples of intelligent, scalable...
We’re combing the country to find examples of intelligent, scalable innovation – and we’re going to pick 20 of the best to be featured here, and on the pages of Tehelka. These are some of the most compelling and untold stories of our time – and they reflect another truth; that spirit and determination can master any challenge.
This article was originally published here.
SHOPPING, WE’D LIKE to believe, should be fun. But when you are confronting jam-packed schedules, bumper-to-bumper traffic, crowded malls and then — the last straw — long queues outside trial rooms, the most dedicated credit-card swiper will acknowledge fun as a lost cause. Enter online shopping, with the lure of letting you shop from the cosiness of your couch — but with one vital downside: you can’t try before you buy, apart from having to sacrifice touch-and-feel as part of decision-making.
AN ELEGANT, HIGH-TECH alternative to the traditional dressing table that can be installed both at brick-andmortar stores and online — except this one allows you to virtually ‘try’ out a host of outfits and accessories. Called TrialAR, the product combines a 50-inch flat panel display, Intel core advanced CPU and HD cameras to replicate what looks like a regular dresser — but this one morphs into a personal shopper, mirror and best friend, depending on your needs.
A database of digitised clothes or accessories can be superimposed on the image of the user standing in front of the ‘dresser’, letting you see what an outfit looks like on you without having to navigate the changing room. An analytics-based engine will throw up intelligent choices based on what you have already ‘tried on’. A multi-screen option means you can compare different outfits or colours parallelly. Eventually, Imaginate is hoping to build in a service where you can instantly ‘send’ options to get an opinion from a friend online. Since no information is stored on the device, there are no privacy issues.
“It lets you narrow down choices and yet, to sift through the entire catalogue of a store,” says Hemanth Satyanarayana, CEO of Hyderabad-based Imaginate Software Labs, who developed the technology. Already, the buzz about TrialAR is so strong that he was picked as one of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Innovators Under 35 to watch this year in India.
WITH AN ENGINEERING degree from IIT Chennai and an MS from the University of New York, Satyanarayana, 29, is no stranger to technology. He has more than eight years’ experience working in lead development roles with tech companies in the US, from established MNCs to start-ups. He pioneered the development of an image-guided liver surgery apparatus for a children’s hospital and is also co-inventor of two patents. It was while working with start-ups in the virtual reality space that he was intrigued by the possibilities of using augmented reality and virtual reality in end-user applications in India.
WHILE REDUCING TIME spent in queues waiting for trial rooms, Imaginate doesn’t anticipate that the average Indian shopper will instantly change their shopping habits and eliminate the trial process completely. What they do anticipate is that people will reduce the number of pieces they want to physically try out. They also anticipate the technology will be popular when trying on cumbersome outfits such as saris. A third bonus is the ability to try on items from different departments — say, earrings, a clutch bag, a pair of shoes, and even a shade of lipstick — to complement your outfit, without having to race around the store collecting options.
IMAGINATE IS WORKING on three versions of TrialAR: the ‘desk’ version for retail stores; a web version for online shopping that will use a customer’s webcam to allow them the same virtual trial-room experience, and a mobile app. Retailers are already knocking at Satyanarayana’s door; the product is currently being tested with a retailer and talks are on for VC funding to scale the innovation.