Trying on clothes in a magic mirror

Aug 26, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Wouldn’t it be nice if we could shop for clothes without constantly having to try them on in the fitting room? The vision could soon become a reality thanks to the “virtual mirror” presented by Fraunhofer researchers at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin from August 29 to September 3. This mirror-like display enables shoppers to see themselves wearing different items of clothing without having to undo a single button.

There is more than a grain of truth in the old cliché that men hate shopping for clothes. They find fitting rooms a nuisance and prefer to go on wearing the same things that they have always worn. Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut HHI have developed a magic mirror that takes the stress out of trying on new clothes. You simply have to choose one T-shirt or shirt, and the virtual mirror will show you wearing a range of different designs, without having to take off one to try on another.

“The principle is similar to the virtual shoe-fitting mirror that we developed last year for the Adidas flagship store in Paris,” says Anna Hilsmann of the HHI. “But it is somewhat more difficult to create a realistic impression of T-shirts, shirts or sweaters in a virtual mirror. These items of clothing develop folds that partially distort the image depending how the wearer moves about.”

Textiles have elastic qualities, their structure is not always uniform, and there are innumerable details that give each material its special appeal. These characteristics represent a challenge for the virtual mirror. Summing up the scientific work required, Anna Hilsmann explains: “To reproduce elastic deformations such as those in a woven or knitted fabric, we have to evaluate many different parameters and process them all simultaneously.” The research team has come up with a bright idea for demonstrating their technology to the public: At the IFA international consumer electronics show in Berlin, visitors can see how easy it is to display different logos or graphics on the same T-shirt.

So what does a stress-free fitting room look like? The customer stands in front of a display that has a camera mounted above it. By filming the person, the camera registers the way their clothing flows and moves. To change clothes, the logo on a T-shirt might be replaced with a different, virtual design, for example. The wearer then sees their own image in the display wearing the same T-shirt but with a blue Fraunhofer logo in place of the original green one. To make the image in the magic mirror appear as realistic as possible, the folds and creases in the clothes actually worn by the user are reproduced in the virtual representation, even when the user is moving about. The shadows and lighting effects seen in the virtual mirror are also identical to those on the real person.

As Anna Hilsmann explains, the ingenious part consists in “calculating the spatial parameters of the projected image on the basis of a two-dimensional model. This reduces the number of dimensions we need to simulate the image and allows us to rapidly evaluate any movements.” The 2-D model consists of a closely meshed network of triangular fields. This is sufficient to predict any changes. The system also knows the directions in which the fabric is capable of stretching or flowing – in other words its specific deformation behavior. To allow the virtual image to reflect these changes as realistically as possible, the apexes of the triangles can be displaced independently of one another.

The camera shoots frames at intervals of a few milliseconds and transmits them to a memory unit. Here, the images are analyzed to determine what changes have taken place between successive frames. To do so, a triangular meshwork is superimposed on each frame, employing a technique commonly used in computer graphics. Since the content of the triangular fields doesn’t necessarily change from one frame to the next, the system only compares those fields where changes have actually taken place. This information is used to create a new virtual image of the item of clothing, incorporating the new logo. The images are processed in real time. Consequently, users have the impression that the image reflected in the display follows every movement they make, including the way this affects the folds and creases in the clothes they are wearing, just like a real mirror. A touch screen allows shoppers to choose different styles and colors of the garment they have selected., helping them to decide which color or design suits them best. “Shoes and clothes are just the first stage,” remarks Anna Hilsmann. “The virtual mirror could also be used to help customers select eyewear or jewelry.” Many reluctant shoppers are likely to be relieved by the simplicity this brings to the arduous task of buying new clothes, and might even be persuaded to adopt a new look!

Provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Explore further: Researchers propose network-based evaluation tool to assess relief operations feasibility

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Avatar Mimics You in Real Time

Mar 25, 2008

It’s a little bit like looking in the mirror at your cartoon double, except that the “reflection” is an avatar on your computer screen. Wave your hand, nod your head, speak a sentence, and your avatar ...

Laser radiometry: Powering up

Jun 11, 2012

(Phys.org) -- “If you made a long distance phone call or sent an email today, or if you’re wearing clothes, then you are benefiting directly from our laser services,” says Marla Dowell, leader ...

Recommended for you

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

15 hours ago

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Oderfla
3.2 / 5 (5) Aug 26, 2008
"They find fitting rooms a nuisance and prefer to go on wearing the same things that they have always worn." - needs citation

slig
5 / 5 (3) Aug 26, 2008
I thought the purpose of a fitting room was to see if the clothing fit. o_O Maybe down the track it will perform a volumetric scan the body to see if it can bypass a physical fitting room, but until then it just sounds like a novelty aimed at consumers giddy for aesthetics.
Arikin
3 / 5 (2) Aug 27, 2008
Volume would be a problem and probably one they skipped for now. As long as the store has a full selection of sizes...

But for simple shirt and pants fashion this gives the customer at least a general idea. Wonder if it can suggest fashion tips like clashing colors? :-)
MGraser
5 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2008
If the fashion companies created the images of all product they make and assign them a barcode, the stores could have access to that data and use RFID to know what they have in stock and make suggestions in their magic mirror based upon what the customer is trying on. Take it a step further and the customer could carry around a device and click a button everytime they see a suggestion they like. This could be used for two purposes - one, to narrow down possible suggestions offered, and two, to lead the person to the RFID enabled item (no hunting around!).
gniygnehc
not rated yet Dec 14, 2008
Does anyone knows how much does the virtual mirror and its complete system costs?

More news stories

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Microsoft CEO is driving data-culture mindset

(Phys.org) —Microsoft's future strategy: is all about leveraging data, from different sources, coming together using one cohesive Microsoft architecture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, both in ...

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects—specifically, ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...