The future of getting dressed: AI, VR and smart fabrics

Cher Horowitz’s closet from the film “Clueless” had a futuristic computer system that helped her come up with outfits. Back in 1995, the concept teased what it might be like to obtain dressed up in the future.

Technology features evolved a lot since then, but closets have already been largely untouched by innovation.

Now, that’s needs to change.

“If algorithms carry out their job well, people will spend less time thinking about what to wear,” stated Ranjitha Kumar, an assistant professor in the Section of Computer Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

From artificial intelligence and devices to smart fabrics and virtual simple fact, technology is poised to breathe innovation into not only how we dress but how we shop.

The virtually all recognizable example is Amazon’s Echo Look, which received significant buzz when it was announced earlier this year. The gizmo ($200) serves as a style assistant that will help you decide what to wear.

Like Amazon’s other smart speakers, the Echo Look will tell you the weather or play music. However the oval-shaped product also has a voice-controlled camera for taking photos of you in a variety of outfits. It functions alongside an app.

Related: Amazon’s $200 Echo Look will judge your outfits

After snapping photos of yourself in two outfits before the device, its built-in Style Check tool decides which is best. It leans on a mixture of equipment learning technology and individual opinion.

Amazon’s “fashion specialists” train the software to be a judge of design. The automated outcomes consider “fit, color, design, seasons and current styles.” It’ll also recommend similar styles to buy from various makes. Through testing, we found that the suggestions could be hit or miss.

“The manufacturer selection is very limited, and while the Echo Look can help you decide between several looks, it can’t look at the total context of where you’re going,” stated personal stylist and creative director Taylor Okata.

Okata, whose clients include E! and Personal Magazine, doesn’t consider the technology a threat to his function: “There’s just that interpersonal conversation that it just does not have.”

Meanwhile, retail experts express the Echo Look’s accomplishment will depend on if it adds even more value than just asking a friend for fashion advice.

Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at research organization Forrester, said those purchasing the device are early adopters — and it lacks widespread appeal.

“It’s such a foreign strategy to rely on a product to tell you what to put on,” she told CNN Tech.

Related: New software backed simply by Kim Kardashian really wants to be fashion’s Shazam

Other companies are actually embracing augmented and digital reality to greatly help people decide what to wear. For example, Obsess VR builds augmented and digital reality shopping platforms hence customers can store without having to go to a store.

In July, the business partnered with Vera Bradley to roll away VR encounters at 10 of its stores. While putting on a Google Daydream VR headset, buyers can approach a bed around in VR, and look at Vera Bradley comforters, quilts and pillows up close in a virtual shop.

“If you believe about e-commerce, every manufacturer and every item essentially looks the same online,” said Obsess CEO and founder Neha Singh. “It’s identical looking, white colored background product shots, and it doesn’t encapsulate what the manufacturer is about. We are building the technology that will allow any brand and store to create discovery-based shopping experiences.”

Apple’s new augmented simple fact platform builds on a similar strategy, allowing developers to create augmented simple fact apps. For example, the brand new IKEA Place software lets users preview home furniture virtually within their home. The tool has more widespread appeal because it doesn’t need a headset.

Fabrics are receiving smarter, too. Earlier this year, JanSport unveiled a prototype for a high-tech backpack with programmable cloth. The backpack lets users show a song, music video, Facebook page or website link with anyone local by holding up their smartphone and utilizing a corresponding app. The backpack could offer teenagers a new way to express themselves.

The concept comes from MIT professor Yoel Fink, the CEO of Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, a nonprofit that aims to reinvent fabrics as programmable products.

“Fabrics are among the earliest varieties of individual expression and they are around for a large number of years,” Fink said. “But they genuinely haven’t changed much from an operating perspective. Our goal is to improve what fabrics [do].”

The team’s most recent prototype is a sports jersey that would allow spectators at a game scan an software over players to see their stats, such as for example rebounds, assists and points. The group will soon test the brand new jerseys with the MIT basketball staff.

Related: JanSport’s high-tech backpack shares your social media

Artificial intelligence could also have a big impact on style, especially as an instrument to greatly help retailers predict trends and keep fashion houses ahead of the curve. Researchers already are working on such solutions using AI and equipment learning.

For example, Kumar from the University of Illinois and her staff are looking at algorithmically identifying manner “influencers” and emerging styles.

Using machine learning techniques that analyze the content of tweets, the group offers identified a lot more than 27,000 fashion-related accounts upon Twitter as the most notable trendsetters.

“We’re now monitoring these influencers and the content they post to model micro-styles and predict their life time,” she said.

However, the challenge is the speed of which fashion trends modification. They can get in weeks or in some cases even a couple of days, according to Kumar.

Kavita Bala, a professor found in the Computer Science Section at Cornell University, is also analyzing social media systems to look for fashion trends. For example, her staff can plot how often people are wearing some clothing item as time passes for a particular city on the globe.

But Bala said design recommendation presents another obstacle: “People have extremely distinctive, subtle and individualist design and they are very picky about it.”

While some AI approaches already are in the functions, other tech-like shopping with a VR headset in your house continues to be years away. It is also unclear how quickly customers would adopt this.

“All of that is becoming possible, but we’re not quite there yet,” stated Obsess’ Singh.

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