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Ask The #InternetOfEverything Futurist: “In the Future, Will Clothes be Delivered to your Dressing Room in Your Size?”

April 1, 2014 - 2 Comments

In my role as Cisco’s Chief Futurist, I get many questions about what the future holds and how new technology and emerging solutions will change our lives. Given the positive feedback and the volume of questions being submitted from the community around the first series, I’ve decided to do another series to answer questions from the education and tech community around the Internet of Everything (IoE). Be sure to check out the previous Ask the #InternetOfEverything Futurist blogs and videos about the advances of battery technology and the future of smartphones.

As a kid, I was fascinated by the popular cartoon “The Jetsons.” Set in a futurist space community called Orbit City, the Jetson family had it all: a flying car, a household robot and a machine that helped members of the family get dressed.

Today, the technology the Jetsons used to live their life in the sky doesn’t seem too far-fetched. In fact, I’ve previously written about how close we are to seeing flying cars become a reality. We’ve also seen how the growth of the Internet of Everything (IoE) is connecting more and more people, data, things and processes – leading to a plethora of robots to clean your kitchen floors and an influx of connected things built to make our lives easier. A Cisco-powered infrastructure is what’s driving this the transition to an Internet of Everything world.

There is tremendous development in Jetsonian retail options. Online shopping via mobile devices, digital dressing room mirrors and a host of ready-to-wear connected devices (wearables) are changing how we shop and what we choose to buy. In one “Jetsons” episode, Jane and Judy Jetson use a “dress selector projection machine” to find an outfit to wear. Similar to what the creators of the Jetson’s predicted, we just beginning to see an iteration of this type of technology bring the runway to your dressing room or clothes closet. However, will this type of business model actually work?

In this Ask the #InternetOfEverything Futurist post, I’ll answer a question from Lauren Malhoit (@malhoit) a Cisco Champion, that points to this type of retail and fashion evolution. Lauren asks:

Question: “A recent Fast Company article mentions a retail business model where clothes are essentially delivered to you in the dressing room in your size. Do you think a model like this would work?”

Answer: Excellent question, Lauren, especially considering the recent developments in this area. There are several innovators leveraging the benefits of the Internet of Everything to make the traditional retail model more connected than ever before. For example, a few years ago Macy’s debuted a virtual dressing room mirror that turned the shopping process into a social experience. In addition, Hointer, is driving the intersection of mobile technology and back-end processing to merge traditional brick and mortar retail stores with online shopping. In fact, at retail store that has partnered with Hointer, shoppers can select pieces of clothing via a mobile app and the clothes are delivered to a dressing room for shoppers to try on.

While the idea of never having to search the racks for your size is appealing, logistically, a singular global retail model like this is very challenging to pull off considering all the sizes and styles. The permutations of clothing required would be significant. So one approach might be to limit this subset of inventory, such as Hointer’s model to partner with specific retailers and manufacturers.

Another scalable solution might be to try on clothes first virtually through interactive digital signage. Shoppers could utilize the latest 3D scanning technology and the simulation of fabric physics to identify clothes that might be a fit, then try it on and potentially buy it. For example, CLO Virtual Fashion Inc. has developed a C-Mirror that digitally projects a piece of clothing over a person’s body – creating a type of virtual dressing room.

The long-term result of this type of approach would help reduce inventory and let shoppers experience the buying process anywhere they have an Internet connection, such from the comfort at home or from their very own flying car.

If you missed my previous Ask the #IoE Futurist blog series posts, check them out:

Do you have a question for @DaveTheFuturist? Join the conversation using #InternetOfEverything and #AskTheFuturist.

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  1. I believe this model can be applied to the clothing sector, but use cases should be simpler and adressing the real world problems.
    No need for the simulation but think of yourself going into a real store, you initially look for a model that you might like. Secondly you look for the fit. To find your own size, you all look around the different sizes. If it just flashes , or blinks it will save you 30 seconds. (Technologically you should have a device, the clothes should have a device. You might contact or push the device on one of clothes and the same type but your size flashes)
    This is a very simple case, but makes a huge difference if you are on a Sales part at Macy’s or Burlington . It does’nt matter where it is sold, simple technology, simple advance of shopping.

  2. This article made me laugh. I hate to break it to you guys, but clothes are *already* delivered to the changing room in my size. They are selected and brought there by the saleswoman, who looks as what I’m already trying on and selects compatible clothing based on what I’ve chosen and what she thinks will suit. It’s an extremely successful model; I typically end up buying three times as much in stores like that as I do where no such service exists.