A stitch in time: revolutionising the online clothing market
A research partnership between UTS and next generation e-commerce company Tec.Fit is set to disrupt online ordering and custom manufacturing processes for the clothing market.
If you’ve ever shopped for clothes online, chances are you’ve also spent a fair amount of time returning items that don’t fit. A new collaboration between UTS and next generation e-commerce company Tec.Fit is set to change all that. A research team from the UTS Global Big Data Technologies Centre is developing two key technologies that will overcome the lack of standardised sizing across clothing brands, and mitigate the subsequent cost to retailers of returns and exchanges.
The first technology is a smartphone-based, mass market, full-body 2D and 3D scanning tool that captures the exact dimensions of customers’ bodies. The second is a novel 3D printing technology that can rapidly produce life-sized, recyclable mannequins for custom tailoring jobs.
“Tec.Fit was born of the concept of gathering body measurements quickly and accurately without all the measurement issues of traditional tailoring processes,” says CEO of Tec.Fit, Tim Allison.
Customers can use the scanning tool at home and include their measurements when they order clothes from their online retailer of choice, ensuring the items they receive are the right fit.
For custom jobs, the 3D printing technology can produce mannequins of individual shoppers, resulting in perfectly fitting garments without the need for face-to-face interaction between customer and retailer.
UTS research project leader Associate Professor Jian Zhang, says that the technologies are unique in the marketplace. The scanning tool, for example, uses video rather than laser to capture customer measurements.
“The beauty of it is that we can measure many, many aspects of the body, so that the cutting can be done more precisely to fit the individual,” he says.
The research collaboration takes advantage of UTS’s pragmatic and flexible approach to IP. As a member of the Australian Technology Network (ATN), UTS supports the ATN’s IP Principles and is committed to providing fair, equitable and timely access to the project IP, and is supporting Tec.Fit to take the lead in its management and commercialisation.
“It’s really important for us as a business that we actually control and own our IP. The thing that really excited me about UTS’s outlook was they said, ‘We understand that it’s the companies in Australia that will actually drive that IP process, and we want to help that,’” Allison says.
At the outset of the project UTS committed to transparent and flexible dealings with the Tec.Fit team, including giving them a single point of contact for any issues or communications. UTS initiated a prompt execution of the collaboration agreement using a standard agreement template that is made public on the UTS website.
The university has also provided Tec.Fit with a space in the UTS Industry Hub, an on-site research co-working space that supports the development of new, collaborative ventures between industry and UTS academics.
According to UTS Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Glenn Wightwick, the success of the research collaboration to date is a sign of UTS’s broader commitment to becoming a trusted research partner for industry, particularly SMEs – but says the collaboration process is a two-way street.
“Out partnership with Tec.Fit is a great example of the digital evolution of traditional businesses, and of UTS’s role in supporting that process,” he says.
“UTS also benefits from exposure to the challenges our partners face in their journey to innovate and grow. In turn, this means that we can adapt and develop new ways to provide support. It’s a win-win.”