Apr 262012

Window shopping is a phrase that usually implies looking at a display of mannequins wearing trendy garments and accessories, such as designer sunglasses and handbags. The visual displays are designed to lure customers by suggesting that they too can look fashionable in the same products. Thanks to Bloomingdale’s new virtual window displays, customers really can see themselves wearing designer sunglasses.

Figure 1. Image Courtesy of Mashable.com

The Lexington Avenue NYC Bloomingdale’s is currently featuring virtual LCD screens in six interactive windows through May 7. Each window has four options of sunglasses from designers such as Marc Jacobs, Roberto Cavalli, Miu Miu, Gucci, and FENDI, which any passerby can “try on” before walking into the store.

The window display locates a woman’s eyes and positions a selected pair of frames on her image as projected by the built-in camera. A front view and profile show the woman how the actual designer sunglasses might fit her face shape. If there is a pair that a shopper particularly likes, she can press the “Print” button. The selected style and virtual image are sent to a salesperson inside Bloomingdale’s who will help the customer try on and potentially buy the frames she saw in the window.

An interactive screen gives customers an opportunity to see what a garment or accessory might look like without having to physically put it on. Last month, Kim Knight provided an example of augmented reality being used in the “Fashionista” tool, which layers clothing over a person’s body onscreen. An image of the desired garment or accessory is suspended on a screen and the customer can decide if it is a desired fit for their own body type.

While clothing that moves with a person’s body would be best judged by actually putting it on, an accessory that functions independently from the body might be a useful option when deciding whether or not to purchase the item. The use of augmented reality in the case of Bloomingdale’s window display provides a fairly accurate rendering of how a style of frames would fit.

The interactive screens will only be available for a few more weeks, but the prime location will certainly entice potential customers to try out the new technology. Without having to enter the store, a customer can browse through the frames without feeling pressured to buy them. As for the salesperson, he or she will not have to spend extra time cleaning all of the discarded styles that a customer tried on but did not purchase.

Depending on the success of the display, it might be possible in the future to see an interactive screen provided at a sunglasses counter. The screen would help a customer decide where to start looking.

Most notably, the Bloomingdale’s display does not provide the price of any of the pairs of sunglasses. After going inside, a customer can decide whether or not she loves the price of the frames that she took the time to select from the virtual window.

  One Response to “Virtual Window at Bloomingdale’s Lets You “Try On” Sunglasses”

  1. Interesting! I wonder what the price point is on the sunglasses? That will probably make a big difference in whether this kind of thing, which is meant to facilitate impulse buying, will actually work. I agree that the rigid form of sunglasses will probably work better for a “true to life” visual of what the item would look like on your body.

    Even so, this experiment still falls short for me for 2 reasons. The first is something that is probably unfair to hold against Bloomingdale’s, but it lacks any critical or disruptive quality. It is marketing at its purest.

    The second is that this privileges form over function. I get headaches with light sensitivity so the most important quality when I buy sunglasses is the shading of the lenses. Which I can only tell by trying them on.

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