Augmented Reality Lets You Try On Clothes from Online Shops

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Up to this point we’ve seen maybe 2% of augmented reality’s latent potential. For the most part, applications of the technology have ranged from utterly useless, to transparently gimmicky, to “oh hey, that’s kind of cool.”

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But now, web retailers might want to start jumping onboard the augmented reality train with new software from Los Angeles-based Zugara, which is using the technology to create something of an online dressing room.

Zugara is dubbing it the “webcam social shopper” in a partnership with U.K.-based retailer Banana Flame. Shoppers will need to step back 4-feet from their computers to make the frame work and as an added touch, the interface will utilize Xbox Kinect-like motion controls to navigate menus from a distance (see the video above).

Mind you, it’s not an idea that’s entirely new—Ray-Ban has been letting customers try on sunglasses using AR for quite some time—but it’s one of those rare instances where its application seems advantageous to both consumers and retailers. For shoppers the benefits are obvious: Though it’s a far cry from actually going to the mall and trying stuff on (you can’t, for instance, get a proximity for sizing), at least you’ll get a better idea if something actually works or not.

For online retailers, augmented reality could theoretically help reduce return shipping costs they’d otherwise be dealing with, as consumers will have one more tool to vet superfluous purchasing decisions made at their computers.

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If that isn’t enough, think of your poor, bored-to-death boyfriend poking at his iPhone quietly in the shoe section. He’ll be the most appreciative of the fact that you’re doing your shopping from home.

How do I know this? It doesn’t matter. I just do.

[via Read Write Web]

Chris Gayomali is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.