Posts Tagged ‘augmented reality’
Kissengers have an artificial mouth that provides “the convincing properties of a real kiss” … [they] allow for three different types of interaction: human-to-human telekisses, human-to-robot kisses to allow for an intimate relationship with a robot, and human-to-virtual-character kisses
Does the idea of your electronic likeness appearing in shop windows as you walk past appeal? How about if this virtual self was wearing clothes you don’t own but the retailer thinks you might like?
It was with great anticipation I began reading the other day about new technology allowing people to see virtually what they might look like in clothes, without having to try them on. Not least because I once blogged on how great it would be to fuse real-world shopping with Augmented Reality, to save us time during bricks and mortar shopping trips.
There’s something special about shopping in person – however convenient online retail may be. Touching the clothes, feeling their texture, seeing the exact hue and shade of the fabric before purchase. But then trying stuff on can be such a bind… stripping off, trying to avoid getting make-up on almost unaffordable garments… not to mention the dreaded torment of 360° coverage changing room mirrors.
So I can only imagine that the new ‘personalised mannequin’ concept from Intel Labs was designed by someone who has little concept of why people try on clothes. It works by displaying computer-generated mannequins in shop windows, showing how you personally might look wearing certain garments as you walk past. Apparently: ‘motion tracking technology allows the image to mimic the movement of shoppers rather like a mirror as they twirl and admire what they look like in the clothes.’
The spectacle of such a potentially useful innovation made so gimmicky and impracticable seems to indicate it has been developed by individuals who have spent more time watching Minority Report than understanding most people’s real-world shopping experiences. Trying on clothes is a predominantly private experience because changing rooms enable us not only to see how hot we look – but more importantly sense-check for potential fashion faux pas before we buy.
Changing room experiences can be horrific – unflattering outfits that push you in and let you hang out in ways no-one would never want another living soul to see. One time I literally had to bust my way out back out of a dress. The truth is, although Gok Wan has convinced many around the country to share their body hang-ups in glorious technicolour… most of us go into little cubicles to avoid doing just that.
That’s why my whimsical musings suggested being able to see on our smartphones – whilst browsing in shops – a preview of how we might look like wearing certain garments. Such a system would work by superimposing how each item would look, hang, etc. on our own bodies, as per pre-input dimensions.
Maybe smartphone screens won’t cut it because of their size. But still – there has to be a happy medium that does not involve spontaneous public parades of personal fashion disasters we literally didn’t see coming.
The Ugly Betty series adeptly shows how different ‘types’ of people express themselves through clothing – mimicking and unpacking our obsessions with beauty and fashion and the industry that serves and drives them. But even from within that mindset – I could not see any of its larger than life characters… not Betty Suarez nor Marc St James nor even Amanda Sommers… wanting the whole world in the changing room with them.
So although it’s a tidy notion, see before you buy (and one I’m clearly for), I somehow doubt personalised mannequins in shop windows will appeal to many beyond professional models and size zero tweens. So on this one I’d respectfully suggest Intel goes back to the drawing board with some real women (and men)… to make this innovation into something that works for the rest of us.
Hans Christian Anderson’s Emperor’s New Clothes has warned generations of the perils of pomposity and vanity. But still, however we fight it, we often care about how we look and how others see us. So here’s looking out for the next release, because handing over our vital statistics for retailers to share their self-serving mash-ups of our bodies on big screens… it’s really rather unlikely to catch on.
This future could not arrive soon enough. The smartphone that we have all grown completely dependent upon has become one of the rudest technologies ever invented. It harasses us when we have a new e-mail, text message or social network update. Technologies that are wearable and more aware of their surroundings, and therefore able to tell when it is O.K. to interrupt us, will let us wander the halls of society without our gaze turned downward and two thumbs clacking away on a mini-keyboard
I have used the simple notion of the social object often, to frame, discuss and describe online communities and engagement online.
What is a social object?
A social object is something people talk about or form a group around: a discussion point. For example, this January Hovis targeted people dieting and trying to lose weight after the new year. Their Facebook campaign used the social object ‘stop-snacking’ – encouraging people to engage around the idea they could eat Hovis and feel fuller to avoid snacking.
McCain’s recent campaign is currently enjoying success on Facebook, having identified a social object connected to the consumption of chips: guilt. The page has attained over 11,000 likes and engagement has been good, with fans readily confessing ‘guilty secrets’ on its wall – for a chance to win a trip to New York.
Dasein – in the world with others
Heidegger’s philosophical concept of ‘being-in-the-world‘ teaches that our understanding of the world, split into ‘subject’ and ‘object’ is a modern scientific construct unhelpful to understanding human existence.
The attainment of ‘authentic existence,’ according to Heidegger, may be explored by using an alternative set of concepts (ontology) – including that of the ‘dasein’ – the person ‘being there’ in relation to objects in his or her life-world.
Dasein with the social object
Heidegger insists, then, that we suspend the notions of subject and object in favour of dasein (‘being there’). This enables us to consider the interplay between the social object and the person – precisely as various moments of temporal intersection.
For example, in the image above, the man, in his state of ‘being there’ with the bicycle, becomes a fast-moving cyclist representing the Tomaso brand.
It is the convening of ‘Dasein’ and the ‘world’ which gives definition to both… “Dasein’s facticity is such that its Being-in-the-world has always dispersed [zerstreut] or even split itself up into definite ways of Being-in.
The multiplicity of these is indicated by the following examples: having to do with something, producing something, attending to something and looking after it, making use of something, giving something up and letting it go, undertaking, accomplishing, evincing, interrogating, considering, discussing, determining….”
Mobile, social, being in the world
This notion of ‘being there,’ then, becomes useful for planning activity across social spaces, because it enables deep consideration of the moments in which a person is coming into contact with a social object. And then, conversely, how the social object should ‘be’ in relation to the dasein at that time.
What is the person doing, how are they feeling, what is distracting them, what else is in their field of vision, who else is with them, what sort of group are they in, are they comfortable, professional, excited, bored?
This all has indications for when, where and how a social object is presented, and thus how a person may ‘be there’ with it.
At home golf is a prized collection of clubs, with a group of friends around the tv it is The Open, with colleagues it is an office sweepstake, on the green it is stunning views. For golfing holidays, the social object around that product has many temporalities which may be tapped into differently, for different people, in different locations at different times.
Reaching for the dasein
Crucially, we are always in a certain space-time, perhaps using a certain device, in relation to social objects. We can imagine our connection to them: driving, walking, painting, partying, running, as a function of our temporality. It follows that social media, or, indeed, all communications – sits neatly in that interplay.
My interest in handbags has a temporality: the space I keep them in the cupboard; the ones I use most often and ones I will probably never use again; the places I would go to first to buy one, the places my friends would go, and the friends whose judgement I would trust to recommend a shop. There is the moment I am in the shop, browsing, or the moment a new handbag is delivered, the clothes I will wear with it, the places, events, people, music, that are in my world on each occasion.
As dasein my relationship to social objects continually alters, as does my behaviour and the data I may be producing and consuming in relation to it. Am I complaining about, comparing, replacing, showing off, or hiding my handbag? Am I using it to ward off thieves?
‘Being there’ with an ‘Internet of things’
As mobile social technology diffuses – Heideggerian philosophy provides an overarching understanding of the ‘Internet of things‘ – as the networked realisation of people ‘being in the world’ with ‘social objects’ in lots of different times, places and moods.
It suggests communications planning that taps into the uniqueness of individuals in their particular temporality, with the social object in question.
From the world of designer fashion an example is this real world catwalk show that was livecasted and combined with an online chatroom, where participants could personally interact with a DKNY tweeter with an established reputation, and get access to VIP discounts for making purchases.
Another example is the potential for Facebook to combine ‘Buy with friends’ and Facebook deals (which associate special offers with checking into given locations). This could tap specifically into people and their relationships at given times, in conjunction with social objects and activity in the real world.
Moving over to sportswear – Asics took advantage of different stages of temporality at the New York City Marathon with their use of runners and RFID tags. As participants passed over RFID readers at specific points of the New York Marathon track they were played messages from loved ones on giant screens to encourage them along the 26 mile course.
Charles Arthur wrote last week “it’s fashion which seems to have leapt quickest into this technology.” But his description of what fashion is doing with Augmented Reality (AR) didn’t really enthuse me – a t-shirt that apparently mixes reality and fantasy. Slightly more practical, The Independent’s list of new fashion iPhone apps includes one that helps decipher laundry labels.
What would be really useful, and would revolutionise a ‘real-life’ shopping experience, is AR that shows how we look in clothes without having to try them on.
A person could input their exact measurements, or have their body dimensions modelled, and stored on their personal profile in the AR app. Then when they hold their mobile device up to a garment in a shop, they could see a computer representation of what they would look like wearing it. And decide whether to make the purchase or to make certain of the fit by trying it on.
Fits.me is one of the latest incarnations of ‘AR’ with real measurements that online retailers are trying out. But this doesn’t help for those last-minute high-speed bricks and mortar clothes purchases (which seems to be most of my clothes shopping these days). Just an idea.