Hands-off shoe fitting

Mar 01, 2007
Hands-off shoe fitting
Image: © Fraunhofer HHI

A new technology puts an end to the tedious business of buying shoes: Customers can now try on a variety of models in front of a virtual mirror without changing their shoes. They can navigate through the collection by simply pointing at products on a computer screen.

A Paris shop has put an end to the tiresome procedure of putting on and taking off shoes: Instead of trying on dozens of pairs, the customer simply stands in front of a virtual mirror. On his foot, he can see his favorite model with the red stripes, he then selects the gold leather alternative for comparison.

This entertaining form of shopping can be found on the Avenue des Champs Elysées, where adidas has opened its most modern shop anywhere in the world. The virtual mirror was developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut HHI, in Berlin.

Unlike a conventional mirror, it does not display a true reflection. Instead, a camera captures the customer’s feet and legs and displays them as a video scene on the monitor. The various shoe models are inserted into this picture. “Thanks to the 3-D image processing techniques developed at the HHI, the software is so fast that it can follow the customer’s movements in real time,” says Jürgen Rurainsky, one of the virtual mirror’s developers.

A second presentation area known as “Infospace”, also conceived by the HHI, presents shoes and apparel from the sportswear manufacturer in pictures, ad spots and brief movies. In contrast to the touch screen technique, the customer can navigate through the menu without touching anything at all. All he needs to do is point at the screen with his index finger from a distance of approximately 80 centimeters. What makes it all possible is a “finger-tracking” system: A stereo camera on the ceiling photographs the finger and calculates its spatial position and the direction in which it is pointing.

The information is passed on to a software program that moves and activates the objects on the monitor. If the customer wants to click on an object, for example a video scene, he simply keeps his finger pointing in the appropriate direction for a moment. The challenge for the researchers was to program the system so skillfully that it would be fast enough to respond instantly to these motions. After all, it not only has to interpret the finger’s motion correctly within fractions of a second, but also translate the gestures into the appropriate commands without delay.

“Another important goal was to make this technology understandable and easy to use,” explains Paul Chojecki, who tested the user-friendliness of the control-by-gesture system. “But our goal for both presentation areas was to demonstrate that you can move around in the virtual world without recourse to technical aids such as data gloves or 3-D goggles.” The researchers will be demonstrating how well their method works at the CeBIT fair in Hanover from March 15 to 21.

Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Explore further: Voice, image give clues in hunt for Foley's killer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

With selfies, the world turns the camera on itself

Dec 24, 2013

Stuck on a ledge halfway up a 3,000-foot (1,000-meter) cliff in Oman, his climbing rope sliced in two by sharp rocks, Jimmy Chin did what anyone else would have done in his predicament.

Soccer matches and concerts from any angle you choose

Sep 03, 2013

In future, soccer and music fans will be able to choose the camera angle when watching live matches and concerts on TV, or even enjoy a 360-degree view of proceedings: all thanks to a new panorama camera ...

From recession's wake, education innovation blooms

Aug 04, 2013

On a warm spring evening, hundreds of investment bankers, venture capitalists and geeky tech entrepreneurs gathered near the pool of the Phoenician, a luxury resort outside Phoenix. The occasion? A high-profile ...

Recommended for you

Voice, image give clues in hunt for Foley's killer

3 hours ago

Police and intelligence services are using image analysis and voice-recognition software, studying social media postings and seeking human tips as they scramble to identify the militant recorded on a video ...

Smartphone-loss anxiety disorder

4 hours ago

The smart phone has changed our behavior, sometimes for the better as we are now able to connect and engage with many more people than ever before, sometimes for the worse in that we may have become over-reliant on the connectivity ...

Why conspiracy theorists won't give up on MH17 and MH370

Aug 20, 2014

A huge criminal investigation is underway in the Netherlands, following the downing of flight MH17. Ten Dutch prosecutors and 200 policemen are involved in collecting evidence to present at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The inv ...

Here's how you find out who shot down MH17

Aug 20, 2014

More than a month has passed since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed with the loss of all 298 lives on board. But despite the disturbances at the crash site near the small town of Grabovo, near Donetsk ...

Assange talks of leaving embassy, sowing confusion

Aug 18, 2014

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sowed confusion Monday with an announcement that appeared to indicate he was leaving his embassy bolt hole, but his spokesman later clarified that that would not happen unless ...

User comments : 0