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Smartphones: The future's tape measure

Posting in Design

Tape measures, fiddling around with conversion tables and annoying attendants by swapping sizes in the changing room may soon be a thing of the past.

Scientists from Surrey University and designers based at the London College of Fashion say that new software could be used by shoppers to take precise waist, hip, chest and other body measurements in order to buy the best-fitting sizes in the future.

Using a smartphone's camera and height as a starting point, the software creates a 3D replica of your body, estimating size at various points. The researchers believe this will be a more accurate representation of your proportions than traditional 'small/medium/large/XL' labels.

Professor Adrian Hilton, from the University of Surrey, believes it is "unrealistic" to expect shoppers to take defined measurements for themselves, and this kind of technology could save retailers a fortune -- as well as customers aggravation -- spent due to returned items and the need to order the same garment multiple times, eventually making the supply chain more simplistic and potentially increasing efficiency.

The project, sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is expected to be commercially available within the next two years.

"The potential benefits for the fashion industry and for shoppers are huge," said Philip Delamore from the London College of Fashion. "Currently, it's common for online shoppers to order two or three different sizes of the same item of clothing at the same time, as they're unsure which one will fit best."

Image credit: Eden Pictures

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— By on November 20, 2012, 7:48 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure