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September 15, 2022updated 16 Sep 2022 10:05am

Walmart ‘throws shade’ at rivals with new try-on tech for online fashion shoppers

US retailer Walmart has announced a new augmented reality (AR) solution that enables fashion customers to try on clothes at home, however it is bullish about its new foray into the space.

By Chloe Olivia Sladden

Walmart’s new augmented reality (AR) Be Your Own Model technology enables online fashion customers to snap pictures of themselves at home and then try on clothes virtually.

The new try-on technology from Walmart is a result of the company’s acquisition of Zeekit in 2021, but the retailer has also thumbed its nose at other fashion companies that have rolled out similar technology.

This is hardly the first solution of its kind. Over the years, companies like Amazon and Burberry have introduced smart mirrors that enable users to go to a store and try on clothes virtually.

Some may remember the Echo Look. The Alexa-powered smart camera was introduced in 2017 and gave users styling tips using a mix of artificial intelligence (AI) and human curation. The Echo Look was discontinued in 2019, with its services being introduced into the Amazon Shopping app.

However, without naming any names, Walmart throws some serious shade at the AR try-on tools that went before its Be Your Own Model tech.

“Where we didn’t feel like customers were satisfied is that a lot of the AR experiences are basically the equivalent of taking and laying a flat image on top of a flat image,” Cheryl Ainoa, Walmart SVP of new businesses and emerging tech, told TechCrunch. “That doesn’t let you actually experience what this article of clothing is going to look like on me.”

So how does Walmart’s new try-on technology work? First the prospective customer takes a photo on their iPhone. Then the AI solution uses algorithms and machine learning models to show how different variations of clothing will look on a real person.

The Walmart try-on technology thus enables customers to get a realistic simulation, using shadows and fabric draping. It helps show how clothing will fall on someone’s body type in seconds, according to Walmart’s website.

Users can virtually try on more than 270,000 items from across Walmart’s portfolio of brands.

The Be Your Own Model has been rolled out to iOS customers who use the Walmart app. Android users will be able to enjoy the technology in the coming weeks.

Earlier this year Walmart warned higher prices for fuel and food are affecting consumers’ ability to spend on hardline items, such as apparel.

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