Consumer Reactions
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Commercial applications of body scanning -- mass-customized clothing, improved ready-to-wear sizing systems, and virtual try-on -- will not be viable if consumers do not want to be scanned. We asked the women scanned in our study about their comfort and interest in body scanning. We found the answer to be a resounding "yes" for interest and comfort, regardless of size, age, or their satisfaction with the fit of available ready-to-wear pants. Almost all were willing to be scanned again and many were willing to be scanned every year or whenever their weight changed.

Participants were less comfortable seeing their scans as a still or moving picture on the computer screen and least comfortable showing their scans to family and friends. To address this issue, we have pursued some ideas to increase the comfort people have in viewing their own scan. These include abstracting the scan by reducing the number of data points, changing the color and lighting on the scans, and placing several scans together for context.

We also found very positive reactions to commercial applications using body scan data. Participants found the virtual try-on application more appealing than custom-fit clothing or patterns, size prediction, or personal shopper applications. They also selected virtual try-on as the most likely to influence them to buy more clothing on the Internet. Virtual try-on, custom-fit clothing, and personal shopper were rated highest in helping to find clothing that looks good on the body, and custom-fit and size prediction were rated highest in helping to find clothing that fits. Participant confidence was also extremely high in the applications of body scan data as an effective way to obtain body measurements, as an effective means to obtain good fit, and in trusting an online screen image of their own body more than an idealized body shape.

The participants in the study found the virtual try-on application of body scan data most appealing. (3D Models: WPG. Scan Data: Cornell Body Scan Research Group)

Research still needs to be conducted on men and people of other ages, though our results suggest that consumers are willing to have their bodies scanned. If the same results are found with future studies, other problems may remain: How easy will it be to change the ways consumers shop and buy clothing? Will they be willing to view their clothed body scan on a computer screen instead of touching and trying on actual garments? Much work remains.

A 3D body scan shows the body in a new way and can be uncomfortable to view. Scan subjects may be more comfortable viewing their scans in an abstract format, such as the one on the right, rather than one that captures every detail of the body. (Image: Katherine Schoenfelder)