3D Virtual Try-On: iPad App Helps You Shop for New Glasses

A new augmented reality e-commerce application for Glasses.com may not only revolutionize how consumers shop for eyeglasses, but could also have a significant impact on online shopping. The iOS app scans multiple angles of your face and uses a QR code (held up to your head) to determine the scale of your face. Then the app can superimpose glasses on images of your face to offer a virtual fitting room experience.

“Online shopping today is just a digital version of the Sears catalog from 100 years ago,” says Jonathan Coon, co-founder and CEO of 1-800 Contacts. “The days of putting a photo of a product up on a white background with a price are over.”

For Glasses.com, Coon’s team developed an in-home AR shopping app for glasses (the iOS version will launch next month). The app includes social elements, like the ability to ask friends to help you narrow down choices for what looks best. The app also allows you to mark your own favorites and make purchases within the app.

Coon believes that while people may not get the app just to make a single purchase, the larger takeaway suggests online shopping will trend towards more immersive experiences.

Glasses.com demonstrated the app last week in a hallway exhibit at TED. Once the app is downloaded, users position themselves in front of an iPad’s front-facing camera, then slowly turn their heads from one side to the other while the camera captures 300-450 frames. “The app then isolates 15 key angles to build a manipulable 3D representation of your head,” writes AllThingsD.

Holding a QR code to your head provides scale. “Then comes a sort of personal fitting room, with pairs of various glasses superimposed on your own face, which you can swipe back and forth to see from different angles,” explains the article.

“The Glasses.com application will be to augmented-reality shopping what ‘Toy Story’ was for computer-generated animated films,” suggests Coon. “Prior to ‘Toy Story,’ CG was just used in a scene — it wasn’t 100 percent of a movie. And it often wasn’t very good. ‘Toy Story’ was the first 100 percent CG animated film, the first to look good and the first to achieve commercial success.”

“3D virtual try-on creates an unprecedented experience for discovering the glasses you love,” explains Glasses.com. “We’re excited to release the app for iPad in the coming weeks with Android, Web and other platforms to follow.”