Tokyo IT firm working on virtual shoe fitting

Tokyo-based information technology firm Flickfit Inc is developing a service for shoe shoppers to virtually fit shoes to their feet using 3-D scans, and it is hoping to use the service for online footwear shopping from next year.

The service, which would enable customers to search for a large number of footwear types in a short time, has the potential to revolutionize the world of online shoe shopping, says the company’s founder and chief executive, Hirohito Hirohashi.

To have their feet mapped from toe to heel, customers stand on a sensor-equipped measuring device developed by the firm. 3-D models of their feet and the inside of shoes are then juxtaposed on a screen, allowing customers to see how the footwear fits.

Areas indicated by warm colors show a tight fit, while areas in cool colors are where there is some wriggle room. The differentiation allows customers to choose shoes based not just on their feel but also on data, according to the company.

The 3-D data can be saved on Flickfit’s members-only website. A department store in Tokyo plans to begin offering the service in summer with Flickfit hoping to expand the number of stores with measuring devices.

The company is also aiming within several years to develop a system that would allow people to measure their feet using a smartphone camera.

“Because it is difficult to select the size of a shoe, online shopping for shoes has lagged behind clothes,” Hirohashi said. “If this becomes a reality, it has the potential of bringing a dramatic change to the (shoe-retailing) market.”

Flickfit collaborated with Chiba University in developing the technology used to overlay the foot and shoe data.

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