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Innovation & Startups

Carnegie Mellon's Smart.Mirrors is your own personal shopper

Imagine a world where computers help people to dress stylishly.

That's the idea behind Smart.Mirrors, an invention that brings a high tech personal shopper into the fitting room with you. Started by a group of Carnegie Mellon Heinz College grad students, the concept provides shoppers with a virtual catalogue of wardrobe options while serving as a sales tool for retailers.

Smart.Mirror is actually a touchscreen that's positioned in a store or dressing room. Clothes, tagged with RFID tags, are picked up by the "smart mirror" and the item is then paired with a number of other clothing options off the racks to complete the look. The process is similar to online shopping when a customer clicks on a selection and is given other items that they might also like.

"(The concept) exists online but not in brick and mortar stores yet," says Kevin Chia, who came up with the idea while studying at Singapore Management University. Chia is working with Vincent Sethiwan, Jonathan Ma and a team of 12 on a business plan with the help of several grants. Smart.Mirror was presented during Carnegie Mellon's Project Olympus Open House this month.

"Retailers say that customers have a habit of cornering themselves in a few areas of a store and ignoring other areas that could potentially have an item they want to buy," adds Ma. "This allows a user to navigate the entire inventory of the story with a few swipes of the finger."

A beta version was tested at Charles Spiegel in Squirrel Hill. The team is looking for a few more test shops.

"The million dollar question is whether we can (help retailers) increase revenue," says Ma. "We plan to do that by increasing the number of units purchased per customer." They are considering several revenue models: leasing the system, selling it outright or employing it as a consulting service.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Kevin Chia, Vincent Sethiwan and Jonathan Maa, Smart.Mirrors

Image courtesy of Smart.Mirrors
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