Virtual robot will size your jeans

An Estonian company is trying to combat the problem of online clothes sizing by developing a robot and web app to help us see exactly what an item of clothing will look like when it’s on a body shape.

It’s an age old problem for girls, and we imagine for guys as well. Virtual shopping takes on a sinister turn when you order a jumper, pair of jeans or dress in a size that comes through your letter box and is too big or small.

The sleeves may fit on a jumper, but it could be too baggy on the belly or the chest fit could make you look like Superman rather well dressed. In the past companies have tried to combat this by offering measurements on their sites – for the record we’ve never found these useful – or by offering a tailor made service. Again, we’ve heard rumours that these aren’t up to scratch with one fashionista telling us a service failed to make the right pair of jeans three times.

Fits.me has  developed a team of shape-shifting robots designed to help shoppers get the right fit when buying clothes online. According to the company, we’re not alone in our sizing problems with only 7 percent of the population buying clothes online because there’s no way of really trying on clothes before you buy. You can bust out the tape measure but erratic sizes between labels means you can’t be sure.

Three years ago Fits.me decided to try and find a way around. It secured just over a million pounds in funding from the European Union, and approached Maarja Kruusma, professor of biorobotics at the University of Tallinn, to create a robot that determined sizes by exact measurements.  

A robotic upper-body mannequin will shape-shift its torso, neck and upper arms to the sizes you put into the website.

After the customer has entered their body measurements, they can see the fit of a clothing item – like in the real-life fitting room. The robotic mannequins mimic the shape and size of the customer and show the customer photos of the mannequin wearing different sizes of clothing.

It’s now hoping, as are we, that retailers will implement the idea into their “size help” or “size chart” showing only samples of clothing.

We decided to have a play with the robot on the site. Unfortunately there is currently no womens option because it’s apparently  a lot harder to get the bust measurements right. However, it’s hoping that there will be a feminine counterpart next month.

Putting in male measurements is however, easy. You click on the item of clothing you like on the website and are then taken to the measurements section, which uses a slider to determine your height, chest size, waist and arm length as well as your torso shape. Once you’ve done this a second page will come up with a range of sizes from XS to XXL on the bottom. Clicking on each size will show how the item will look on you.

A word of warning: if you’re in denial about what size you actually are and have a mirror that tells “white size lies” at home then you may not like the way the item bulges around the belly when you click on that “XS” but looks great on the “XL”.