Responsive Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

PARC's Responsive Mirror is a prototype device that is intended to augment the usual clothing recommendation and exploration systems already in use (like your friends, for instance). The Responsive Mirror presents the user with new choices that are "similar" and "different" - part of the experiment is to see just how people use these terms in fashion.

A prototype device was recently demonstrated. Lisa Katayama writes in a boingboing article:

By streaming video taken by the camera through their spatially oriented machine learning software, PARC researchers have figured out how to give people like me a real-time interactive comparison shopping experience. The responsive mirror system, which comes in both a desktop and full-length version, displays previously worn outfits on a second "mirror" ó the playback of a movie taken by a webcam on the ceiling that locates you spatially within the frame and then finds the same angled shot from the previous clip.

Take a look at a brief video clip of her experience with the Palo Alto Research Center's Responsive Mirror:


(PARC Responsive Mirror video)

Lisa sees an early reference to this kind of device in a 1990's movie:

The idea of using digital images to compare outfits, for me at least, dates back to 1995, when the movie Clueless came out. In the opening scene, Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is picking out an outfit to wear to school. "Actually, my life is way normal for a teenage girl," she says. "I wake up, I brush my teeth, and I pick out my school clothes!" The camera then zooms in on an old school computer monitor showing a program that helps her pick out an outfit. Cher scrolls through all the items in her closet, picks a few possible outfits, and then the software juxtaposes the best look onto a photograph of herself.

I think I can put it back a few more decades. In his classic 1965 novel Bill the Galactic Hero, Harry Harrison writes about a raw recruit who is convinced to sign up when presented with "pictures" of himself in uniforms of increasing rank:

Bill's eyes followed the thick finger as it pointed to the colour plate in the book where a miracle of misapplied engineering caused his own face to appear on the illustrated figures dressed in trooper red. The sergeant flipped the pages, and on each page the uniform was a little more gaudy, the rank higher. The last one was that of a grand admiral, and Bill blinked at his own face under the plumed helmet, now with a touch of crow's feet around the eyes and sporting a handsome grey-shot mustache, but still undeniably his own.
(Read more about Harrison's personalized fashion display)

If you stretch the idea just a bit, sf fans can go back even further. Take a look at the animated "fashion plates" from When the Sleeper Wakes, an 1899 story by H.G. Wells.

Via boingboing gadgets.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/1/2009)

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