The My Virtual Model Voice

People, facts, news and all things virtual, being the corporate blog of My Virtual Model.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Human Height & Weight Chart

Rob Cockerham is a very funny dedicated man. One of his most striking work-in-progress can be found here on It's called the Photographic Height/Weight Chart.

The idea is simple and deep: people submit a head to toe photo of themselves along with their height and weight. Then Rob puts it in the corresponding empty square on his chart. So far, 193 photos have been placed on the chart, both men and women together.

Here's how it work: 

Height increases from bottom to top, from 4 ft 10 in. to 6 ft 8 in., each row counting for one more inch.

increases from left to right, from 90 lbs to 380 lbs, each column standing for 10-lbs increment.

The diagonal pattern forming in the center of the chart is also to be found in a BMI chart. The Body Mass Index is defined as the individual's body weight divided by the square of his or her height.

Overlaying BMI lines over Rob's chart gives you this picture below. The leftmost line is BMI = 18 and the next one right to it is BMI = 25. Anyone in between these two lines has a healthy weight, according to insurers science. The next lines from left to right are BMI = 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, and 55.

It should come as no surprise that more people will found themselves in the 18-25 range than on any other area of the chart. Rob's sample obeys the same rules of ramdomness found in any poll or public survey. Unless there is something very special no one knows about about sending a photo of oneself over the web, all kinds of people should be willing to participate without skewing the stats intentionally.

This bar chart shows how many submissions Rob got for each 5-BMI unit range. This is close to the normal weight distribution in the US population. One has to remember that Rob counts only one submission for each square in his chart. While he must be receiving several submissions for the most frequent height/weight combinations, he's keeping only one for display.
When all squares will be filled in, the chart will somehow flatten and this will be skewed stats. Counting all real submissions should rather tend toward showing the normal distribution.

One final note:

To get a BMI of 55, one has to be something like 4' 10" and 380 lbs. No one of that size has participated in Rob's experiment yet but it's live since last year only.

There is plenty of empty squares left in the chart just waiting for volunteers. I guess Rob is still taking entries this year too so if you feel like it, just take a photo of yourself and send him an e-mail.
Here's the instructions about how to do it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The MVM Look Creator Gets Improved

Ever wonder how a fashion look might really look like on you? The My Virtual Model Look Creator allows you to try on looks on a model of your own. You simply select your body shape, height, weight, hairstyle and color, and you can now shop visually.

We all know that people have their own shopping habits: some would shop for items from their favorite brands and others would shop for looks they want to achieve. The MVM Fashion Community gives you both and then more. Now you can shop by visual style.

Need new outfit ideas? MVM stands for self-expression. Design your own looks or browse the ever-growing collection of members' creations. Fashion is there for everyone to share. Just dare to try it on.

The MVM Community is a friendly meeting place for women and shoppers. People get to know each others by sharing fashion advices directed at their virtual models. A great tool for would-be fashion consultants!

Other sites featuring a style editor, outfit builder, or styleboard cannot show personalized models at all. MVM members will soon be able to refine their search for all looks created using a model similar to their own. Searching by body type, shape and other features such as skin tone, size, age group, etc. is sure to increase relevance, usefulness and fun.

Stay tuned!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Louise Guay at the Club e-Luxe Summit 2009, Paris

Strategies for Luxury Website Design, e-Merchandising & e-Customization

Last June, Louise Guay and Gregory Saumier-Finch presented My Virtual Model to the luxury industry leaders at the Ritz Hotel, Paris. The Club e-Luxe Summit is held each year since 2007 by Uché Okonkwo, Luxe Corp.

"As the creator of My Virtual Model, the 3-D visual merchandising application that enables the re-creation of the real-self in the virtual space, Louise's presentation was filled with her passion of visionary invention that transform everyone into an online star.

Louise took the audience on a journey of virtual self discovery by demonstrating how to create a personalized avatar, which enables users to try on products ranging from apparel, shoes, bags and jewellery as well as to test as many "looks" as one wishes. She also introduced My Virtual Model fashion community and its role in shaping the collective experiences of online users who are increasingly being exposed to 3D virtual interactions. The power of the online community through engagement and sharing of content prior to making purchases was also underlined.

Her proposition for luxury brands was that the online shopping experience should be fun and a celebration of the luxury brand through unique personalized experiences online."

Source: Luxe Corp Summit Book 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Raving Reviews of My Virtual Model

Did you ever try Google Books? A search for "My Virtual Model" returns some 150 citations. I selected these four recent books which look pretty interesting.

Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World's Most Powerful Consumers, by Bridget Brennan, Crown Business, 2009

"The website does the zoom function one better through its "My Virtual Model" feature. The site allows shoppers to input their height, weight, and personal characteristics--even a photo of themselves--to create their own animated online model to try on clothing. It also offers the same feature for home fashions section of the site, enabling shoppers to click and paste everything from furniture to paint colors in images of rooms. It's brilliant and totally unexpected."

Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions, by Bill Scott, Theresa Neil, O'Reilly Media, 2009

"Showing a close-up of a camera on an electronics site is a common technique. But what sets a Live Preview apart from a simple preview is its interactive nature.

Lands' End uses a tool called My Virtual Model to bring Live Previews to clothes shopping. It is based on the premise that if you can show what the clothes will look like on the shoppers, they will be happier with their purchases. While virtual models can only come so close to reality, users can personalize the model with their height, weight, body shape, and so on. Then when they select shirts, pants, and shoes, their virtual model will appear dressed with the items."

Electronic Commerce, by Gary Schneider, Course Technology, 2008

"About 15 percent of visitors to the site use the virtual model and, on average, dress the model 40 times during a visit. Lands' End has found that the dollar amount of orders placed by customers who use the virtual model is about 10 percent larger than other orders. The Canadian company that developed this Web site feature, My Virtual Model, has sold the technology to a number of other clothing retailers."

Chocolates on the pillow aren't enough: reinventing the customer experience, by Jonathan M. Tisch, Karl Weber, Wiley, 2007

"To be effective, technology must be subservient to human ends. The software and web site features used by Lands' End to develop custom clothing designs look simple and may even seem a little hokey. (Does it really matter that My Virtual Model has hair the same length, color, and curliness as mine?) But they help customers take psychological ownership of their clothes even before they order them, providing a sense of figurative comfort that matches the literal comfort we enjoy in well-fitting clothes."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bing and My Virtual Model Visual Search

Bing Visual Search is making the news! For us at MVM, seeing the words "Visual Search" marketed by Microsoft means that the idea is catching on. Bing tells everyone what My Virtual Model believes since a long time. Searching is visual, like in "looking for".

People asked us what's the difference between Bing and My Virtual Model Visual Search. At this time, it’s important to note that differences may be less relevant than goals and objectives.

My Virtual Model devoted 10 years of research in online fashion marketing and we draw some interesting conclusions about visual search. Like text-based search, a visual search solution must provide a way to enter queries and do something with the results. What really makes them two separate engines, though, is that people don't expect visual search to yield the same thing as keyword search engines. If they were the same, why switch to the new gizmo?

Text-based search can easily find pictures using keywords. Visual search uses key images to find matching attributes. The key image concept is what makes MVM Visual Search so easy to use. It fills the gap between experts and novices, following the WYSIWYG rule. To use My Virtual Model Visual Search, people do not have to know about keywords and attributes. They just pick and choose what they like to see.

For text-based search, it is assumed that people know how to read and write, so that's probably what they want to do with the results. If they are searching for an image, they want to see it, right? Wrong. There's a second part to this story.

Delivering pictures to users is not enough. People ought to be able to do things with them. A true visual search solution must provide a graphic interface to use the results. Basic image search would only display results on web pages and provide links to follow. Visual Search extends from 2D to 3D space where users can organize things visually and see how they fit together. Like words, foods or clothes, images take new flavors from their neighbors. Mixing and matching them while searching for the next missing thing is what makes MVM Visual Search a complete user experience.

While developing our 3D shopping engine for apparel retailers, My Virtual Model came across the issue of visual search quite naturally. But rather than adding "visual" in front of "search", we found ourselves with an overwhelming wealth of "visuals" in need of a state-of-the-art "search". Fortunately, MVM staff comprises a few fashion experts and patternmakers mastering the field. They provided the knowledge necessary to build the MVM Key Image Pictionary.

Then the mix-and-match issue came up: how to allow 2D pictures to share the same 3D space as My Virtual Model. And there, we were fortunate again to borrow our solution from Louise Guay's seminal Ph.D. thesis, "The Pocket Museum" (1986) where she described the multimedia experience as collage in a social communication environment. I think people should know how fortunate we are.

Back to Microsoft and Bing. It becomes obvious now why traditional search engines have so much trouble delivering a great shopping experience to users. Don't take me wrong, this situation may change very soon. Search engines are focusing on advertising revenues, leaving the shopping experience to retailers. In the not so far future, successful online retailers will be focusing more on publishing accurate and timely product feeds, leaving the experience part to vertical shopping engines. Shoppers are already expecting search engines to provide that kind of service. And every retailer knows that traffic is not born from their brand alone but mostly from these search engines.

So search engines who want to grow their share of advertising revenues should prepare to hire taxonomists and user experience specialists. Merchandisers need visual shopping engines that deliver highly qualified customers passed the revolving doors, right in front of their products.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Find Looks by Style

People coming to the My Virtual Model Community will now find new features allowing them to search looks created by other members. Interested in wrap tops or halter dresses? Select this garment style then see outfits featuring it, try it on yourself and create a look of your own.

With an ever growing look collection for all women and seasons, My Virtual Model Community offers an instant glance at fashion trends.

You can help My Virtual Model to get more retailers participating in our program by writing to their Online Customer Service.

3D Collection is Growing

Thanks to MVM new Quick 3D editor, producing 3D garments to try on on your model is faster than before. In the MVM Community, people can now vote for items and have them flagged for production so they will come out in 3D. Want to take a look? Come and see for yourself

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Real-time Quick 3D Editor Demo

MVM made the technology breakthough everyone was waiting for. Now any garment in the world can be tried on. Quick 3D reduces by 100x the time it takes to produce a 3D garment.

Our online demo lets you try your hand at mapping a 2D garment photo onto a 3D model.

How it works

The editor creates a 3D garment from a photo and allows you to preview it.
  • Select a picture to load from the left-hand side garment samples.
  • Remove extra pixels with the Eraser tools.
  • Position the body part selectors over the 2D photo.
  • Rotate and scale the parts to make for best adjustment.
In the 3D Preview pane, you can rotate the 3D garment to see how it looks from the sides.

Here is a video of a person using the Quick 3D Editor in real-time.