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Unique Soultions/Me-Ality: Phase I towards Revolutionizing the Way We Shop

Unique Solutions Tanya Shaw, President  [Founder] and CEO of Me-Ality by Unique Solutions

Exciting things are happening at Unique Solutions. Body scanners that aim to ensure the perfect fit have attracted a $30-million investment for Unique Solutions.

Northwater Capital Management Inc.’s Intellectual Property Fund is putting the money into Unique Solutions Design Ltd. The cash infusion will allow Unique Solutions to open more than 300 of its scanning kiosks across North America by the end of 2013.  Tanya Shaw states, “As of June 2012, 500,000 people have been scanned and Me-Ality has over 65 size matching locations that are open in malls across the US.” [article link: Body scanners help shoppers get better fit]

Where will all of those body scanners be located? Click here to see if one will be near you.

Size matching service answers the frustrating question…What is my size?

No more will our shopping experience either in the real world or the on-line world involve totally guessing how that brand will fit you. It is an open secret that there are no consistent sizing standards for clothing brands so it is a total gamble for a prospective buyer especially when they are purchasing online how that particular brand will fit. Vanity sizing is common among brands and some brands use it to give them a psychological ” vanity edge.” [translation: $ales] Instead of “those lying eyes” in retail it is now “Oh those lying brand sizes,” combined with a dose of self-denial from all of us.

Some brands actively manipulate the sizes to appeal to the customers vanity ego as a competitive tool to use against other brands with similar price points, but other brands have honestly been trying to provide as much information as possible to empower their customers to order the best size for their body shape. They realize that the lo$$ percentage due to returns from chaotic and random sizing far outnumbers the additional rate of sales for “vanity sizing.”

The task in the past has been near impossible. Why? Because the culturally diverse US only has one sizing survey “public” database [SizeUSA] in the last 40 years. [see 3D Bodyscanner – Ready to Wear,  Cornell University]

From the [TC]² site about Size USA:

[TC]² conducted a comprehensive sizing survey of the U.S. population, scanning nearly 11,000 individuals in 12 locations across the U.S. The first such survey in over 40 years, SizeUSA provides current measurements on the sizes and shapes of today’s adult consumer.  [NY Times archive article]

Using this vast data base of scanned subjects, [TC]² can provide statistically accurate shape and sizing data analysis for manufacturers, brands, and retailers to improve fit.

SIZE UK using TC2 scanners

 TC2 scanners were used to gather 3D body scans for SIZE_UK_STATISTICS  during 2001 & 2002. During this time approximately 11,000 scans were captured and a total of 1.5 million measurements have been analysed.

Alvanon sizing surveys in China and France:

In 2008 Alvanon released the results of a body scanning survey in China and published those results: A 2008 fashion industry survey: The average US female is 5’4″ at 155 lb?

Alavanon also collaborated with: the Institute Francais du Textile et de l’Habillement (IFTH) to create standard French sizes for the apparel industry. The study, conducted by IFTH in 2006, which included more than 11,500 scans of French citizens in 37 different sites in France, provides powerful insight into how to improve fit for the French body for apparel brands both in France and those seeking to gain a competitive advantage in the market Link to announcement here.

Phase I? What is Phase II?

Now the title of this blog posting is that Me-Ality represents Phase I towards revolutionizing the way we shop. You may be wondering what is phase II?  Really exciting developments are underway right now incorporating Microsoft Kinect based technology to initiate and fast forward development of the Phase II: that includes the development of holy grail home fit services for online shopping. Bodyscanning on the retail site “or at home” and in addition to accurate body size match up to a variety of brands. Once the users body is scanned, the user can then virtually select and try on brands  [to test accurate fit] that are matched up to the bodyscan. Customized clothing or garment patterns can be ordered from in store “or home” using this service. Here is a link to some earlier research in this area from Cornell University College of Human Ecology. More in future posts.

Update: If Me-Ality installs 300 bodyscanner brand size matching services in shopping centers across North America, they will have addressed and resolved a portion of the accurate sizing issue for online retailers. Once your accurate body measurements are in the Me-Ality database, you can shop online for accurate fitting clothing.

About Unique Solutions Ltd.

They develop and commercialize advanced body measurement technologies and maintain the largest database of body measurements that accurately reflects the real size and shape of people. The company’s proprietary technology yields aggregate data and body measurement information that readily translates into better fitting products and services.

Me-Ality [formerly mybestfit]

What is it? Me-Ality is a FREE service that matches body sizing to specific brand sizing measurements that takes less than 10 minutes from Scan to Shopping Guide and makes it easy to find the best fitting clothes for your unique body. Customers are given a shopping list of jeans and apparel that will fit and flatter them. Specific brands and stores in the mall that carry those brands are listed to find their selections. They can also narrow their list to specific style features, or to favorite brands, or the price they want to pay.

Here is a link that will show you the current brands that are working with the Me-Ality service.

Body Scanners

The Intellifit Virtual Fitting Room is a high-accuracy scanner utilizing low emitting radio waves to capture 200,000 points of data on a fully clothed individual in less than 20 seconds. It includes a high-volume transaction server to store a customer’s shopping profile and body measurement information. The data collected can be converted into body measurements for the purpose of size and styling recommendations, product customization as well as health and wellness indicators and progress tracking.

Speciality Software

Online Size and Stylist Recommendation Software

Database Licensing

Unique licenses its customer measurement database for use in body research, and technical design applications. This data could also be licensed in aggregate to apparel brands, or used for marketing to consumers through their affiliate programs through our mybestfit service.

Custom Apparel/Products

The program is available to retailers and apparel and lifestyle manufacturers who sell apparel and lifestyle products through an e-commerce portal; or want to enhance their brick-and-mortar customer experience with the ability to quickly size-match customers to their products. Managed Business Services An all-inclusive scanning service offered to industries which require high volume scanning (measurement collection) during a specified and short period of time. This service is aimed at those who would like the scanner to come to their location as opposed to sending people to an outside location. Consumer Reports Fitness and wellness Comprehensive Measurements.

Links to Unique Solutions News

Alvanon: Innovative, Integrated Fit Solutions for the Apparel Industry

Alavnon uses and links cutting-edge technology to create an innovative transformational process that results in a full service fit and sizing company that offers brands the elusive goal of determining a custom sizing standard for their brand and developing custom forms [that reflect their clientele] and pattern blocks to ensure quality and consistent fit for their product.

Products and Services

 

Listed below are current products and services provided by Alvanon:

AlvaInsight develops fit specifications and grade rules to provide the best fit for the “sweet spot” of your target customer base. Integrated methodology combines technical design expertise, analytical skill, our global body measurement and shape database to redefine particular product specifications and apply anatomically aligned grade rules.

AlvaScan is the first step to improving fit by capturing the exact body specifications of your target market. This customized scanning service utilizes portable and easy-to-use, cutting edge technology to gather relevant data. AlvaScan utilizes safe millimeter wave scanners, to accurately measure a fully clothed body in seconds. These 3D full body scanners (produced by Intellifit Corp, with www.it-fits.info as the link underlying Intellifit Corp) have been employed worldwide and have gathered data for more than 200,000 subjects. This is the most cost-effective method for gathering large amounts of scan data accurately. We have also partnered with various National Size Surveys and have included this data in our measurement databases, giving more breadth and depth to our analysis.

AlvaForm fit mannequins represent the core body standard within a company’s supply chain. The AlvaForm Standard facilitates communication and creates alignment between all parties. The result is improved speed to market and an optimized fit approval process.

AlvaBlock  Customized for you target customer – basic blocks for correct and consistent fit.

AlvaTraining Alvanon has partnered with several training authorities around the world to educate your supply chain on how to effectively implement and measure results for AlvaForm, AlvaBlock and AlvaPhoto systems. They also provide training to your designers, merchandisers, pattern makers, retail store staff on the new fit and how it relates to your customers.

Product Catalog links

Academic Partnership Page

Alvanon’s Latest Creation Your Personal Fit Model

News Articles on Alvanon.

More on Alvanon products and services here on previous blog posting.

Target Australia National Sizing Survey

Target Australia is partnering with Alvanon to body scan about 25,000 people from 4/30/12 to 5/30/12 to get their body measurements down to the exact millimetre. It will be recorded, processed and Target will come up with sizing that best suits the Target Australia population,”

Target managing director Dene Rogers predicts the technology will revolutionise the way we buy and fit clothes. Here is a link to the official Target Australia National Size Survey page describing the body scanning sizing project is here. Scroll down to see two official Target videos demonstrating and explaining the project.

Here is a detailed article on the Target Australia National Size Survey Project titled: Sizing up Australia – is Target’s 3D body scanner the shape of things to come?   by Kate Kennedy, Lecturer, School of Fashion and Textiles at RMIT University.

This article mentions the long desired hope for development of a public domain database to inform both the industry and consumers on Australia’s size and shape. Many people within the Australia textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry will no doubt be viewing Target’s body-scanning project with a certain amount of envy.

I believe many people in the US (AAFA) American Apparel & Footwear Association [as well as Target US] will also be viewing Target Australia’s body-scanning project with a certain amount of envy. Development of an expanded SIZEUSA public domain database would be excellent for generic industry, consumers and educational researchers. Perhaps this is something that AAFA as an organization would consider supporting. [SizeUSA was a two-year National Sizing Survey was sponsored by clothing and textile companies, the Army, Navy and several universities. Lead researcher for the study was Dr. Cynthia Istook, a North Carolina State University textiles professor who teamed up with AlvaProducts using TC2 scanners –source] Matching brand specific items to customers is a win for customers who end up with reliable and good fit and retailers who increase sales [especially online] and reduce returns.

Link to article about the SizeUSA research: Changing the Way Apparel Companies Think about Body Shape.

Anyone that would like to submit a guest blog posting on the subject of expanding on the SizeUSA public database research project, please contact me at polvinem@buffalostate.edu

Intellifit Bodyscan Technology for Public Sizing and Fit Services

July 7, 2012 1 comment

Intellifit Technology Inventors

Ed Gribbin, the former president of Intellifit and, along with Albert Charpentier, are the co-inventors of the Intellifit scanner. The Intellifit body scanner uses radio wave technology (safe low-power millimeter waves) that were licensed from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in 2002. Ed states that “Intellifit is the only body scan technology that can collect body measurements while people remain fully clothed.” Ed and Albert are technological pioneers in public body scanning technology to determine size and fit. Their Intellifit technology is a critical foundation ingredient that is totally transforming and enabling an integrated process to target sizing and fit standards for retail brands.
In the article Body-scanning kiosk wows apparel shoppers , Ed and Albert stated the following:

At the time that the Intellifit scanner was developed, I was helping a few retailers improve their size specifications,” said Ed Gribbin, director of strategic services for AlvaProducts’ global consulting division and co-inventor of Intellifit.  We tried to do a manual measurement survey using trained seamstresses, and we realized the limitations of taking 36 points of measure on a body manually. We looked to other body scan technologies as a first step, thinking that would be a way to automate the tailor. But all these technologies required the subject to get undressed, step into a booth, and basically get their picture taken. It was no faster than manually measuring someone.
It was also considered obtrusive to subjects in a store setting, according to Gribbin. Intellifit was thusly created as a consumer-friendly scanner, allowing users to be scanned fully clothed. Plus, downsizing the scanning chamber allows for a smaller footprint that retailers can accommodate.
“Consumers see the value proposition immediately,” said Intellifit co-founder and CTO Albert Charpentier. “They understand what it can do for them. Most people are willing to give a couple of minutes of their time to get scanned, because their sizing information is then online and they can utilize it to get better-fitting clothes.”

Edward A. Gribbin is currently the President of Alvanon, Inc. and Albert Charpentier is now the Acting VP Engineering for Unique Solutions/Me-Ality.

Alvanon

Ed Gribbin left Intellifit in 2005 to run his own consulting business (Fitspec, LLC) and licensed the data that Intellifit had collected (and continues to collect) and uses the data to advise retailers and brands on size and fit strategy and solutions. In mid-2006, he merged his consulting practice with Alvanon, who was already a leader in providing fit forms to apparel retailers and brands; the consulting division was known first as ‘Strategic Services’, then ‘AlvaSpec’ and today, ‘AlvaInsight’.He led that division from 2006 to the beginning of 2011 when he became president of Alvanon.
Upon joining Alvanon, Ed saw the need to continue to collect data, especially internationally, so Alvanon bought four or five scanners from Intellifit over the next few years. The scanning division is named ‘AlvaScan’ but it uses the Intellifit (radio wave) scanners; AlvaScan has now collected data in China, Australia, Germany and England and are planning scan studies in India and Brazil in the near future. Alvanon also owns scanners from TC2 (white light) and Human Solutions (laser) but currently they do not use them for large, public data collection situations. Most likely because “Intellifit is the only body scan technology that can collect body measurements while people remain fully clothed.” [author note: that might change with the introduction of the [TC]2 portable KX-16]

The 6/12 Stores article Fit Shapes Up  by Faye Brookman states the following:

 Alvanon works with brands to expand the number of people they can dress by focusing on body shapes, not just sizing. Originally developed in 2001 by Intellifit Corporation, Alvanon’s AlvaScan is a full-body scanner that captures accurate measurement data in seconds. That data is aggregated and used to create a 3D virtual body, the starting point for making a mannequin. Alvanon has built the largest global database of body measurements by placing the scanners in retail stores or malls.

“Every single one of our mannequins is based on thousands and thousands of body scans of real people,” Ed Gribbin says. “And when we go to our database, we have empirical evidence that backs up what real women out there who are size eight or 10 really look like.

Alvanon is the global leader in providing full service, integrated fit solutions for the apparel industry. With pioneering expertise in strategic fit consulting and the creation and implementation of customized fit mannequins and tools, we offer a holistic approach to solve fit and size issues. [Source: Alvanon About Us page]

Alvanon recently celebrated its 10th year of providing integrated fit technology based products and services to the global soft goods industry.  Alvanon has made major positive and innovative effects on branding fit, sizing and product development fit products for companies worldwide. Mr Gribbin speaks about introducing those changes to the “notoriously resistant to change” apparel industry in this video. The video also features Janice Wang, CEO and Co-Founder of Alvanon, Jason Wang, COO and Co-Founder of Alvanon, and Don Howard, Director, AlvaInsight. In the video Janice shares that the origin of the Alvanon name is Thomas Alva Edison, an innovator that was actually able to commercialize his innovations.” What a concept!

To quote Janice Wang, “At the end of the day we make fashion fit.” Happy 10 year anniversary Alvanon!

Unique Solutions/MyBestFit>Me-Ality

The about us section of the Unique Solutions Website states that following:

In 2002, Unique Solutions introduced the proprietary UniqueScan body scanning system (known as the Intellifit® Plus) using white light technology. In addition to over 200,000 points of body measurement, the Intellifit Plus can report BMI, height, weight, and health risk factors.

In 2009, Unique Solutions Design Ltd, acquired Pennsylvania based competitor, Intellifit Corporation. (Unique Solutions Design buys Intellifit, Business Journal. 2009 ) The Intellifit body measurement system uses radio wave technology and was the only system capable of scanning a clothed body. Unique Solutions applied their proprietary software and upgraded the technology (mybestfit) and offers consumers the ability to quickly determine their exact body measurements and be matched to apparel that fits, without having to remove their clothing.

With the launch of mybestfit in King of Prussia Mall – the largest retail shopping mall in the U.S. – Unique Solutions marked the beginning of public body scanning Intellifit technology and clothing size service to help consumers find their best fitting and most flattering styles from hundreds of brand name apparel lines. Because there is no sizing standard in the apparel industry, guessing the right size has been a source of frustration for customers, this service will match body size to brands and in turn reduce customer frustration with ill fit and reduce garment returns. mybestfit was changed to Me-Ality in the fall of 2011.

The Unique Solution/Me-Ality is a free (Intellifit) scanner-based clothes sizing service that records client data, including physical information such as 3-D body measurements, weight, height and BMI, as well as demographic and contact information such as email address, age, zip code and ethnicity. Their market research shows participating retailers increase sales when participating in our retail sizing solution service. Unique Solutions works with apparel and product manufacturers to develop size and fit solutions for their goods.

A 10 second fully clothed visit to a Unique Solution/Me-Ality mall kiosk will provide a free “scan, fit, shop” experience. Customers are matched to the right size and styles for their shapes then given a shopping list of jeans and apparel that will fit and flatter them. The Intellifit scan uses exact body measurements matched to apparel size specifications. They are informed as to what stores in that mall offers selections that will fit them. Customers can also narrow their list to specific style features, or to favorite brands, or the price they want to pay.

Customers view recommended styles on-screen at the kiosk and then print their final selections to go shopping. Their personalized Me-Ality Clothing Size Shopping Guide is emailed to their phone. They can log onto http://www.me-ality.com and create their personal profile and generate as many Shopping Guides, and learn about new brands and styles, as often as they like. Current brands Me-Ality works with are listed here.
You can search planned Me-Ality location for North America to see if a body scanning kiosk is planned for a shopping center near you.
Visit a Me-Ality Size Matching Station and be scanned to get matched to apparel that will fit. Then you can:
• Create and print your personal Shopping Guide
• Customize your fashion searches
• Search hundreds of styles
• Receive recommendations that will fit & flatter you best
• Make shopping fun and accurate
• Make shopping faster and easier knowing what size you wear

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