Bodymetrics Launches Kinect-Powered Body-Sizing Pods At Bloomingdale's

Today San Francisco and London-based body-mapping technology company Bodymetrics launched its first ‘Body-Sizing Pod’ in the U.S. at a Bloomingdale’s store in Palo Alto, CA. The company, which aims to help people find clothes that fit well both online and in-store, is already active in London department store Selfridges, and first debuted the Bodymetrics Pod in the U.S. earlier this year for a pilot program at a Los Angeles Bloomingdale’s store.

The company’s Sizing Pod uses Microsoft Kinect for Windows 3D technology to scan consumers’ bodies, accurately predicting a person’s size and shape. The pod at Bloomingdale’s calculates hundreds of measurements including waist, bust, hips, and leg length, to determine which jeans would fit best out of all pairs in stock at the store. Customers enter the pod, which is a large circular dressing room-like structure, wearing tight clothing or their underwear, and then are scanned by 16 Microsoft Kinect devices. The process takes five seconds in total, and users can then review their scan and sizing details with a store employee, and create an account if they want to store their measurements or use them to shop online at Bloomingdale’s.

Bodymetrics launched the first in-store sizing pod at London department store Selfridges in 2003. After being used for several years, Selfridges has reported that the pod now accounts for 20 percent of all premium denim sales at their location on Oxford Street. The company provides its scanning units to retailers for free, and then takes a percentage of all sales made due to the platform (the unit gets a separate area in the store so sales can be tracked), though Goonatilake didn’t specify what percentage they take. At the Selfridges on Oxford Street the company has brought in $1.5 million in revenue, or $5,000 per square foot, which he said is higher than the industry average.

The company also tracks users’ body scans and compiles analytics on size and shape. Right now they’re providing that data to denim companies for free, who then use it to create a special capsule collection for that retailer. Based on the scans collected over the next month at the Palo Alto Bloomingdale’s, a denim company will create a special line of “Body Shape Jeans,” and the company will take a percentage of all jeans sold from that collection. While the company hasn’t monetized those analytics yet, Goonatilake said they could down the line. “There’s a lot of value in the analytics, and we could look at different ways of monetizing that in the future,” CEO and founder Suran Goonatilake said in an interview.

Bodymetrics is also setting its sights on online and at-home shoppers, and by early 2013 shoppers will be able to use Bodymetrics on their own Microsoft Kinect to find out details about their body shape, and get recommendations on items that would fit well. They will be able to check out how items will fit on their online avatar, and buy any items they like directly through the software. The company is currently running a pilot for the at-home system, and though they haven’t finalized the revenue model, they will likely take a percentage of all clothing sold through the program.

While currently online shoppers can only use a Bodymetrics scan done in-store to shop online at their partner retailers, eventually Goonatilake said they want to find a way to allow people to use their technology to shop anywhere online. He said online sales only account for 11 percent of all clothing sold in the U.S., and that “the key reason for that is that people lack confidence to buy garments online, because you can’t assess fit.”

There are other companies trying to tackle in-store and online fit using 3D sizing technology, including online eyewear retailer DITTO, which launched in April 2012 and uses a 3D virtual try-on tool to let shoppers see how a pair of glasses would look on their face. And Mirror.ly is giving online and physical retailers the option to install a virtual fitting room, which allows shoppers to try on clothes while they shop online, or forego fitting room lines in-store. Mirror.ly, which also uses Kinect’s body and gesture recognition tech, is launching in stores this fall using 75-inch digital displays, and then for consumers as a web-based and iOS app. Other players in the virtual fitting room space include Me-Ality, which offers a similar in-store fit guide but doesn’t employ Kinect’s technology, and Clothia, a not-yet-launched augmented reality startup that allows users to try on clothes using their webcam.

When you’re talking full-body scans, it brings up the question of privacy. Bodymetrics’ scans are different from full-body airport scans, and only create an outline of a user’s body using Kinect’s sensors. “It’s very different from the technology that the TSA uses. We did look at those technologies some time back, and decided not to use them because of privacy concerns. Instead we use technology based on consumer devices which are used in millions of people’s homes,” he said. “It’s really a surface outline of your body that we get.” The company also keeps a user’s body measurements in their online accounts (if they decide to create one), but they give customers the ability to delete the information at any time.

Bodymetrics has raised $7 million in funding from strategic partner clothing manufacturing group TAL Group, and plans to expand to four other retail locations in the UK next month, and to Germany in October. While right now they focus on denim for women, they will be expanding to men’s denim soon, and then branching out to other categories. If they can get U.S. customers on board with the units, while also finding a way to crack the online shopping code, they stand to expand with both shoppers and retailers, in the U.S. and broad.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.

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