New Calgary-based startup Qoture is heading into territory others like Mirror.ly and Bodymetrics have already blazed a trail into, but their approach offers something few others can claim: high-accuracy digital sizing with low-end cameras. Most companies trying to use cameras to size up consumers and provide a better clothes shopping experience are using advanced imaging hardware like the Microsoft Kinect, but Qoture wants to deliver similar results using only the smartphone most consumers carry around with them every day.
That’s a much better proposition for web-based retailers, who otherwise would have to rely on accurate reporting from users, or make the unlikely assumption that all their users have access to a Kinect-style device with advanced body/scale detection features. With Qoture’s upcoming iPhone app (the startup is trying to get some funding to finish its development on Kickstarter), users simply take a front and side photo of themselves, and then enter their height to arrive at a clothing size that’s accurate to within one inch, according to Qoture co-founder Oliver Leung.
“We want to partner up with retailers and integrate Qoture into their ecommerce system,” Leung explained about the company’s vision for how it will use the tech. “So similar to PayPal. Let’s suppose you were a fashion designer and you wanted to sell your clothes online. Trouble is, not everyone knows what your sizing standards are. So if you integrated our app into your ecommerce system, we can measure people up remotely and recommend the best size for them.”
Operating as a SaaS business, Qoture will then charge retailers on a per-use basis, in order to make it easier for retailers to get on board. First, though, the idea is to launch a dedicated Qoture app to provide a tech demo of the platform in action, so that prospective partners can see the results it can produce. And while the one-inch margin of error (so long as a user is wearing tight-fitting garments when they snap their photos) now is impressive enough, Leung says the tech will only get better as mobile camera tech evolves, and as the team has a sizeable pool of users to help it account for things like average margin of error when reporting height, which Qoture requires for establishing accurate proportional measurements.
Qoture’s focus is heavily on the backend of its tech, and the founding team has the experience to produce something truly impressive in that regard. One PhD and one PhD student specializing in computational modelling are included in the founding roster, and the idea of easy-to-use, widely available tech that doesn’t require any special hardware on the part of users is bound to be an attractive one, if done right. The biggest challenge for Qoture will be in making sure that the final product is easy for online retailers to integrated into their existing systems with a minimum of effort.
With plug-and-play functionality and a way to take even the minimal amount of human error that comes with relying on self-reported heights, Qoture could become a staple for online clothing retailers, and even if this specific company doesn’t, someone will come around with a solution that sticks.