Blog: Hannah AbdullaApparel makers - Let's get virtual

Hannah Abdulla | 21 November 2018

The Virtual Reality market is becoming a bit of a big deal. According to recent forecasts from DigiCapital, the global VR market value could surpass US$120bn by 2020. And, as consumers are demanding more functionality from their apparel, combining VR with apparel is something to think about. Cue Google.

The internet behemoth has just had a patent approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office to develop a footwear innovation that allows a user to walk safely in real-life, while remaining in a virtual reality environment.

The innovation looks to address the issue that current VR experiences do not allow you to freely walk through a room in the virtual world. Instead, a user must remain in a fixed position.

The 'Augmented and/or Virtual Reality Footwear' is a motorised shoe that "allows the user to walk, seemingly endlessly in the virtual environment, while remaining within a defined physical space in the physical environment," reads the abstract.

In other words, a person can walk around a room as normal — motion that can be linked to movement in the virtual world — but with the shoes on, they are protected from colliding with obstacles in the actual environment, as the shoes detect these.

Admittedly, the news predominantly concerns the gaming industry.

But here's where apparel comes in.

To start with, it could lead to a number of developments including a pair of shoes consumers could wear outdoors while remaining in a virtual world, for example. But in the real world — no pun intended — the news suggests apparel producers must remain a step ahead of technological advances.

Last week, sportswear company Rebel Athletic and SevenTablets announced the launch of the Fit Freedom app that allows customers to turn their smartphone into a "virtual tailor" providing precision sizing.

"It leverages augmented reality and machine learning to recommend the consumer's optimal fit by cross-checking their preferences and measurements with the retailer's available sizing charts. This not only helps eliminate size-related returns, but also inspires confidence and fosters brand loyalty," the developers say.

Amazon, earlier this year, patented a "blended reality" mirror that can be installed at home to show a person's image in a virtual outfit.

Today's consumer wants to be constantly connected, be it to the internet or to social media. And, they want to be able to utilise technology to make their lives easier, something apparel producers need to capitalise on to stay ahead of the game.

Sectors: Technology

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