USask professor’s app lets online shoppers try on clothes virtually before buying


One of the biggest gripes of online shopping has to be the disappointment when the new outfit you ordered doesn’t meet expectations.

A new app developed by a professor at the University of Saskatchewan creates a virtual dressing room for people to try on clothes without leaving the house.

“The customer will take some pictures of themselves, perhaps in tight-fitting clothing, and from there we create a digital avatar, so a digital representation of the person,” explained Dr. Raymond Spiteri, director of high-performance computing at the university.

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From there, the app will allow users to see how clothes will work with their body types and individual measurements. It also has what it calls a comfort map.

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“It’s going to sort of show you how we think the garment will feel on you, like which parts are tighter than others so you can experiment with different sizes and pick out the size that you think is going to fit you the best,” he said.

After that, the team then works with individual brands to create a virtual model of the clothing the avatars would try on.

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It’s a tool Prairie Proud in Saskatoon said they’d be interested in. The clothing store sells in-person and online.

Overall, Spiteri said around 30 to 40 per cent of clothes ordered online are returned.

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For Prairie Pround, they said with online orders, returns inevitably happen.

“Always a big challenge is going to be making sure we have different body types that we’re appealing to in terms of all the products, so returns and exchanges are part of our business,” said owner Cole Thorpe.

Thorpe said they try to meet customers halfway but returns or exchanges can get expensive.

“Obviously shipping costs continue to go skyrocketing over the last few years, and as a small business we like to be able to provide tracking info for all of our customers,” he said.

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He said doing this can add up. He still has questions about how the app with work with existing retail platforms, like Shopify, which Prairie Proud uses.

Spiteri was awarded the Mitacs award of Exceptional Leadership – Professor in Ottawa this week for his work.

He said the next steps are working with larger retails to roll the app out.

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