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Macy's Virtual Fitting Room: An Augmented Reality Shopping Experience

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December 08, 2010

Macy's Virtual Fitting Room: An Augmented Reality Shopping Experience

By Tammy Wolf, TMCnet Copy Editor

Macy’s flagship store in New York City recently featured a dressing room that had all the girls saying, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, which of these outfits will be loved by all?”

Last month, the department store’s 34th Street city location highlighted a 72-inch “magic mirror” linked to an Apple (News - Alert) iPad tablet computer that allowed shoppers to digitally “try on” an endless selection of tops, dresses, bottoms and coats.

According to a spokeswoman for LBi, the digital marketing company responsible for creating the mirror, consumers had a picture taken by a camera attached to the mirror so the technology could understand position and body orientation before their digital “shopping spree” began. Then, as they “tried on” clothes, fashionistas were able to send images via text or e-mail -- or post them to Facebook (News - Alert) for a second, third (or 50th) opinion from friends. (See the video below for a demonstration!)

Any seasoned shopper knows a friend’s opinion is usually the deciding factor to what item is purchased, so this capability for shoppers to get an instant thumbs up, or down, without the physical presence of a shopping companion, was surely a smart move on Macy’s part.

"As the role of retail changes and the lines between physical and digital continue to blur, agencies are tasked with providing innovative solutions," said Christopher Enright, chief innovation officer with LBi, according to Internet Retailer magazine.

Macy’s debuted the mirror during September’s second annual Fashion Night Out event, New York City’s popular shopping event held in celebration of fashion, but began promoting it in early October. Within the first week, thousands stepped in front of the mirror for their virtual wardrobe change, according to

“Reaching out to and engaging with the digital-savvy, young consumer is something all retailers are striving to do,” said Joe Feczko, Macy’s senior vice president for innovation. “The Magic Fitting Room marries together our goals as a marketer and consumers’ expectations perfectly.”

This ability to superimpose clothing on merely a mirror reflection may be the beginning of a futuristic, advanced retail experience in which merchants take on augmented reality solutions for clothing, shoes, and even make-up. ModiFace just released its new iPhone (News - Alert) application, “MakeUp Live,” the world’s first augmented reality virtual makeover tool for make-up application. Using the iPhone camera, this tool is a true virtual make-up mirror that allows users to apply cosmetics in real-time, directly onto the user’s face.

The application provides step-by-step tutorials to achieve trendy beauty looks, as well as the tools necessary to achieve the look including the brush type, shade brand and name.

Launched in 2009, MakeUp Live lets consumers – whether they’re getting ready for a night out, or just need a touch-up -- virtually try on different types of makeup, including mascara, foundation, blush and eye shadow, in hundreds of shades from leading brand names like Revlon, Cover Girl, Lancôme and Clinique.

Just like Macy’s virtual mirror, MakeUp Live allows users to share their new looks via e-mail.  

There’s also the “shape-shifting robo-mannequin,” according to, which allows shoppers to enter their body measurements online and view photos of a mannequin shaped like them “trying on” a desired item of clothing for the perfect fit.

If this augmented reality world were to permanently enter the spectrum of the shopping experience, it surely would make shopping a lot more fun (and bearable for some) – and dressing room lines shorter!

Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet copy editor. Previously she was assistant to the editor at The Darien Times, a weekly newspaper in Darien, Conn., where she edited submissions, did page layout and design and helped manage the newspaper's website. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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