Case StudiesScientific ResearchVirtual Reality

Experiences in the Development of an Augmented Reality Dressing Room


Case study


authors: Ugo Erra and Valerio Colonnese
Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics
University of Basilicata, Potenza, Italy
contacts: Ugo Erra
University of Basilicata
Viale Dell’Ateneo n°10, Macchia Romana
Potenza – 85100 Italy


Augmenting reality technology is changing the face of retail
and altering consumer purchasing decisions wherever it is used, whether
on home computers, mobile devices, or in kiosks in stores. This is because
the technologies behind these applications are becoming increasingly affordable
and suciently cheap that developers are exploiting their greatest
potential to bring about a revolution in the way purchases are made.
In this paper, we describe our experiences of designing an augmented reality
dressing room where 3D models of the clothing are overlaid with a
camera-captured color image to achieve the function of a virtual mirror.
In this way, customers can move around to decide whether the clothing
suits and ts them well. The project is implemented in Unity 4 Pro in
combination with Microsoft Kinect 2 for the tracking process. In this paper,
we discuss design issues and technical implementation and prospects
for further development of the techniques.

Keywords: Augmented reality, human body tracking, dressing room

1 Introduction

Today, shopping has become a highly popular and time-consuming activity. For
some people, clothes shopping is a leisure activity, whereas for others it is a stress-
ful and tedious activity because of the guesswork involved in deciding whether a
set of clothing suits and ts them well. Experiments with so-called augmented re-
ality dressing room technology have been around for years. In these experiments,
customers can try on clothing to check the t or the style virtually rather than
physically and make their purchases quickly and easily. These approaches im-
plemented with augmented reality re ect the current state of the art in human
body tracking technologies.
Recent developments in sensor technologies allow accurate and robust human
body tracking, enabling a new set of possibilities. In particular, entertainment
technologies such as Microsoft Kinect [1] and other related devices have lowered
the barrier to entry to these possibilities in terms of both cost and development
complexity. However, the technology behind Microsoft Kinect has gone much
further than gaming and has been used in many contexts in very creative ways,
ranging from advanced user interfaces to high-quality 3D scans, and even as a
tool for stroke recovery.
Therefore, the goal of the present study was to develop an augmented virtual
dressing room application that can run on a common desktop personal computer
equipped with an o -the-shelf Microsoft Kinect 2 device. This application can
enhance the way customers shop and help them to choose the correct type of
item of clothing. The proposed approach is designed to be computationally ef-
cient, and it can be used with cheap hardware. The major bene ts from this
type of application are expected to be: 1) an improved ability to make a cor-
rect buying decision, reducing the time required; 2) increasing opportunities for
fashion designers to experiment creatively; and 3) parallel use for other goods
and accessories such as jewelry, spectacles, handbags, and shoes.
This paper describes our experiences during the design, with a discussion
of the technical solutions that we chose for our approach. A sample applica-
tion with a user interface was developed to test practicality and performance.
The user interface allows the user to choose an item of clothing by making a
hand movement toward it. Preliminary results indicate that this is a promising
approach, and further design experiments are needed.

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2 Related Works

In the past, several approaches have been implemented for augmented reality
dressing rooms. These re ect the current state of the art in human body tracking
technologies. Three lines of research are brie y discussed in this section: image
processing, ducial marker, and hardware-based tracking.
Martin and Erdal [2] present an image-processing design ow for visualizing
an augmented dressing room and that is designed to be compatible with a com-
mon webcam. The software is implemented by a three-stage algorithm: detection
and sizing of the user’s body, identi cation of reference points based on face de-
tection and augmented reality markers, and superimposition of the clothing over
the user’s image. The limitations of this tracking method means that clothes can
be superimposed only as 2D images. A similar approach is described in [3].
Fiducial marker-based tracking involves the automatic detection of patterns
in digital images that are taken with a camera. Kjrside et al. [4] propose a tag-
based approach that requires the manual labeling of body parts with one or more
markers. The video frames received from the camera are analyzed in real time
using image-processing techniques to determine the 3D position and orientation
of the markers and then to create an augmented reality of the customer wearing
the clothing. A similar approach is presented in Araki and Muraoka [5]. The
capturing of a person is accomplished by positioning small colored markers on
the user’s joints. The markers have di erent colors according to the placement on
the body. A negative point of this approach is that the user cannot be captured
from the side. In addition, more generally, the printed marker pattern must be
placed on the user’s body, which may be time-consuming and cumbersome from
Developing an Augmented Reality Dressing Room 3
the consumer’s point of view. The manual labeling of body parts with tags may
also be a source of error.
Tracking hardware allows for a more accurate and robust solution that en-
ables the investigation of various augmented reality dressing approaches. The
solution proposed by Furkan and Gokcehan [6] is based on a 2D model that is
scaled based on the distance between the user and the Microsoft Kinect sensor
and then overlaid with the video image. However, this technique is designed
speci cally for t-shirts, and the researchers do not show the treatment in use
for other items of clothing. A similar approach based on depth data from the
Microsoft Kinect is presented in Presle [7]. Recently, several commercial applica-
tions have appeared based on the Microsoft Kinect. Such virtual dressing rooms
are available from, for example, FaceCake [8] or Fitnect [9].
Our work also attempts to exploit body tracking technologies based on Mi-
crosoft Kinect. However, a key aspect of our solution that di ers from other
approaches is the use of 3D clothing with skeleton animation. This aspect al-
lows the user complete freedom of the room and adds movement exibility by
utilizing smooth continuous tracking.

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3 Fundamentals

This section provides a basic outline of the fundamentals of our approach, in
particular for the two technologies used in our approach: Microsoft Kinect 2
(also known as Kinect for Xbox One) and Unity 3D.
Microsoft Kinect 2 [10] is a device for the Xbox One game console that allows
users to control and interact with games through a natural user interface by using
gestures and spoken commands. Microsoft Kinect 2 has a cone-shaped tracking
area of 70. The user comes into full view of the Microsoft Kinect 2 camera at
approximately 1:4 m. At distances closer to the camera, only partial skeleton
tracking is possible, and the end of the Microsoft Kinect 2 tracking range is 4:2
m from the camera. At its closest full body tracking range, the user can move
up to 1 m to each side of the camera. At its furthest range, the user can move
up to 2.9 m from each side of the camera. This results in a total tracking range
of just over 10 m2 [11]. The tracking process of the Microsoft Kinect 2 is based
on retrieval of the particular body joint positions [12]. This algorithm allows
real-time detection and tracking of the user’s skeleton in a stable and ecient
way. Moreover, the algorithm allows a full rotation of the body and a robust
distinction between the left and right side of the user’s body.
Unity 3D [13] is a feature-rich, fully integrated development engine that pro-
vides out-of-the-box functionality for the creation of interactive 3D content. With
Unity, this content can be published on multiple platforms such as personal com-
puter, Web, iOS, Android, and Xbox, and allows the augmented reality dressing
room in combination with the Microsoft Kinect to be executed on several oper-
ating systems. Unity’s complete toolset, intuitive workspace, and on-the- y play
testing and editing feature can save developers time and e ort. Unity enables
developers to extend its functionality by using platform-speci c native code


Fig. 1. A proposed basic setup of the dressing room. It consists of the Microsoft Kinect
2 device, a vertical display, and a computer. The person in front of the Microsoft Kinect
is interacting at a certain distance and inside a limited area. The green line indicates
the appropriate height placement of the Microsoft Kinect.

braries called native plugins. These allow access to features such as OS calls
and third-party code libraries that would otherwise not be available in Unity.
Through these plugins, the Microsoft Kinect API set can be made available
in Unity Pro (the commercial full version), giving developers full access to the
Microsoft Kinect core functionality. In particular, the plugins enable vision de-
tection and tracking functionality within Unity and allow developers to create
augmenting applications and games relatively easily [1].

4 Design

The idea behind our augmented reality dressing room is to allow users to try on
clothes virtually in front of a vertical large screen, which acts as an augmented
mirror, so that the users can quickly decide whether the clothing ts them phys-
ically and aesthetically. In this way, customers can try on more clothes in less
time. This may improve the mood of customers and help to a ect their decision
to buy the clothing or try it on for real.
Most approaches based on body tracking involve mapping a 2D texture as
cloth to the user’s body. When the user moves around, the clothing does not
accurately capture the user’s position and movement, therefore causing sev-
eral unaesthetic e ects. To achieve a more realistic simulation of the process
of dressing, we based our approach on the adoption of 3D clothing models. This
approach has several advantages. First, it does not make any assumption of the
user’s dimensions (body shape, height, width, length of limbs, etc.) from the
Developing an Augmented Reality Dressing Room 5

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Fig. 2. The 20 joints that make up a Microsoft Kinect skeleton [14].


data captured by Microsoft Kinect and therefore does not require a prior 3D
scan. Second, the full 3D clothing model will always follow the motion of the
user captured by the Microsoft Kinect. As the user moves around, the Microsoft
Kinect will capture the skeleton tracking information, which will be mapped
onto the 3D clothing model. In this way, the clothes will match the movements
of the user. Therefore, a realistic simulation of dressing is achieved by the in-
teraction between the skeleton of the user and the virtual skeleton of the 3D
clothing model.
To use this approach, we require the editing of a skeleton animation in the 3D
clothing model. Skeleton animation is a well-known technique used in computer
animation in which a character is represented in two parts: a surface repre-
sentation called a mesh used to render the character, and a hierarchical set of
interconnected bones called the skeleton. Each bone in the skeleton is associated
with some portion of the mesh’s visual representation. In this way, the move-
ment of a portion of the skin is in uenced by one or more associated bones [15].
The rigging is the process of constructing the series of bones used to animate
the mesh. Usually, a 3D computer graphics program is used to provide a default
skeleton to animate humans, for example, 3D Studio Max, which is the program
we used for our implementation. The modeler must place the joints exactly where
they would be in a real-world skeleton and associate the bones with the mesh
(Figure 3). Although this technique is often used to animate human characters,
it can be used to control the deformation of any object. In our case, the rigging
is easy because we can use the default skeleton provided for human characters,
but we only need to associate the bones that are bound to the mesh of the 3D
clothing model (left and right foot bones are never used). For example, in the
case of a long skirt, we require only the spine base and right and left knees.
The Microsoft Kinect SDK 2.0 provides information about the location of
users standing in front of the Microsoft Kinect sensor array with detailed position
6 Experiences in Development of an Augmented Reality Dressing Room
and orientation data. These data are input into the application code as a set of
20 body joints (Figure 2), namely skeleton position. These joints are used to
locate the parts of the 3D clothing model and therefore represent the user’s
current position and pose. The application can therefore use the skeleton data
to measure various dimensions of users’ parts and control. In particular, we can
use the Euclidean distance from the head to one of the ankles to estimate the
user height and the distance between the left and right shoulders to estimate
user width. The skeleton data are retrieved with the abovementioned image
retrieval method|calling a frame retrieval method and passing a bu er|while
our application can then use an event model by hooking an event to an event
handler to capture the frame when a new frame of the skeleton data is ready.
Our approach can be summarized as follows: 1) extraction of the user tracking
information from the video stream; 2) positioning of the 3D clothing model by
using the skeleton tracker of the Microsoft Kinect SDK; 3) scaling of the model
by using the Euclidean distance between the body joints and the user’s distance
from the sensor; and 4) superimposition of the 3D clothing model on the user.
Because the clothing model is in 3D, the application allows horizontal rota-
tion of the user. Thus, users can perform a full rotation in front of the augmented
mirror to see their front and back. We tested this action and found that the
body joints are adequately detected within the distance range of approximately
2{3.2 m (see Figure 1). A drawback of this approach is that the 3D model is
superimposed on the top layer and the user always stays behind the model. This
causes some inevitable artifacts for some types of clothing when users perform
certain actions such as folding their arms.

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Fig. 3. A 3D item of clothing without (left) and with (right) the virtual skeleton.

Figure 4 shows the user interface elements in our application with some
examples of clothing. The button on the upper right side can be used to force
the application to re-acquire the user’s dimensions. The buttons on right and
left central sides are functions for the selection of previous and next item of
Developing an Augmented Reality Dressing Room 7
clothing. A hand position indicator shows the current coordinates of the hand
on the screen, similar to a mouse. This facilitates user interaction because it
allows users to switch easily from one item of clothing to another by simply
holding their hand above the elements for two seconds.

Fig. 4. The user interface of the application and some examples of clothing.

5 Conclusions

In this paper, we have described our experiences during the design of an aug-
mented reality dressing room. We introduced our approach, which combines the
visualization capabilities of the game development tool Unity Pro with the po-
sition and body tracking capabilities of Microsoft Kinect 2. The overall system
software does not require calibration, is inexpensive, and is easy to use. The low
cost and ease of use makes it accessible to a wider group of vendors who do not
normally have access to a professional augmenting reality facility.
Compared with other approaches to augmenting reality dressing rooms, our
approach o ers good visualization results in terms of appearance. Moreover,
our approach allows customers to move around relatively freely with an item of
clothing because the user’s position and movement are captured with skeleton
mapping. At the same time, the initial setup in terms of the design of the 3D
clothing model is relatively inexpensive. Although it would mean that every piece
of clothing in a vendor’s inventory would have to be modeled and textured and
added to the 3D repository in advance, several ad-hoc applications are available
for designing clothing, for example, Marvelous Designer [16].
In future work, our augmented reality dressing room may be enhanced in
some areas. First, we will conduct an empirical evaluation of the proposed sys-
tem to investigate customer satisfaction in relation to service quality. The illu-
mination of clothes by the lighting conditions of the real-world captured camera
8 Experiences in Development of an Augmented Reality Dressing Room
images could be used to enhance the realism of the rendering. Another possible
improvement is the implementation of a complete 3D scanning procedure of the
clothing to enable a new item to be added into a 3D repository more quickly
and easily.

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Work in this paper has been funded by Basiliata Innovazione under the agree-
ment \Studio di fattibilita nalizzato allo Sviluppo di una Vetrina 3D basata
sulla Realta Aumentata” in 2014.


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Raffaele Schiavullo
the authorRaffaele Schiavullo
ADMINISTRATOR - Senior 3D/Virtual Reality Specialist and Automotive HMI developer - Working in London and "insanely" passionate about technology and its creative applications


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