JCPenney’s Virtual Dressing Room

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

If you have a teenage daughter, we bet she’ll love this.

Hearst Magazines Digital Media, New York, and Munich-based metaio, a leader in augmented reality applications with offices in San Francisco and Seoul, have launched an augmented reality online shopping application on

Launching just in time for the Back-to-School season, the ‘virtual dressing room’, which will be sponsored exclusively by JCPenney, will give users the ability to try on clothes and link to to purchase their favorite selections right from their home.

While the companies are touting the application as ‘the first ever markerless augmented reality online shopping application‘, it is very reminiscent in many ways of Virtual Model, a Montreal company in business for almost 20 years until going bankrupt a year ago. And an Estonian company has just launched, a virtual fitting room for online clothing retailers which initially seems to be for men’s fashions. (It has a special shape-shifting robotic mannequin designed to allow shoppers to get the right fit when buying their clothes online and has tied up with UK retailer, Hawes & Curtis to offer its virtual fitting room for its online store.)

However, the application is a true breakthrough in online product visualization, as clothes are automatically and instantly overlaid on the consumer`s real-time video image through her own webcam.

“With the help of our exclusive retail partner JCPenney, the virtual dressing room makes online shopping easy and viral: with a simple wave of a hand, shoppers can select, rate and share their top picks with friends via Facebook or email, and even purchase the items directly from,” says Kristine Welker, vice-president of sales and marketing for Hearst Magazines Digital Media.

The experience combines four popular technologies: augmented reality, motion capture, social media and eCommerce. Created in Adobe Flash, the virtual dressing room does not require a plug-in and is very simple to use. The application detects the shopper in front of his or her webcam at home, The shopper selects the piece of clothing, The clothing overlays the user’s own clothing so that she can see how the style looks on her, The user can then link to to purchase her (or his) selections or send their look to friends via e-mail or Facebook.

This is the first instant online dressing room, where the fitting of the clothing happens automatically and within the live-video stream. The shoppers do not need a marker or an upload of a still image. The shoppers can try various outfits by simply pointing at the icons within the app to scan through the digital catalog of clothing pieces, enabled by motion capture technology.

“Teens have long turned to Seventeen as a trusted style authority,” saysMike Boylson, executive vice-president and CMO for JCPenney.“Through this unique collaboration with, we`re able to merge teen`s love of technology and shopping, and provide an interactive experience that allows them to discover the exciting, affordable fashion available at JCPenney.”

Noora Guldemond, head of sales & marketing for metaio, says, “This is the first truly instant online dressing room and as opposed to other augmented reality applications no markers or uploads needed. We believe this application provides an enhanced interactive online shopping experience for the consumer.”

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