T echnology continues to leap forward at a breakneck pace, and things that were considered science fiction just a few years ago are becoming a reality. Who would have predicted that people would be chasing Pokémon around their neighborhood with the use of an augmented reality app?
Of course, when the technology is available in games, you know that somewhere there is something much more exciting being worked upon. One of the more interesting examples of this is the use of mobile devices to convert 2D images into 3D models on-the-fly.
First up, why is that interesting? Well, technologically, it’s a pretty clever achievement. To use a single camera to take a picture and infer depth on that image requires a lot of work. Remember that game you used to play when you were a kid, when you closed one eye and tried to touch your fingertips together? Inferring depth is like that, but a lot harder.
In June 2018, Google demonstrated their DeepMind artificial intelligence system could take 2D images and turn them into fully rendered scenes. (1) While some of the samples are quite low resolution, it proves that concept is possible.
But when it comes to fashion, we’re not talking about whole scenes. Fashion is more centered on individuals and clothing than recreating rooms and mazes. And the technology is almost here.
Messaging apps like SnapChat and Facebook Messenger allow users to make videos of themselves with augmented reality hats, sunglasses, and even fake facial hair. While the graphics are cartoonish, the concept is once again there – by taking a 2D image of a face, the software can infer depth and apply clothing to it. Fashion-tech hits the big time!
Well, not quite. These apps are clearly designed for the fun aspect. They are turning a 2D image into a 3D model and applying a 3D rendering of clothing and accessories over it, but it will never be good enough for true followers of fashion. If you’ve ever tried it, you’ll have noticed your ears sticking out of the hat, or the sunglasses deciding to sit on your lips. It’s good, but it’s far from perfect.
AI powered software can now extract individuals from 2D photographs – even if they aren’t quite human – and create 3D animations that are stunning in their complexity. (2) When these technologies finally all link up, something special will happen, as there will be a multitude of uses for the results when this becomes mainstream.
Ideally, what the fashion world needs is a killer app based on all of these innovations that can carefully measure your body and let you see what you’d look like in a range of clothes, but accurately rather than in a cartoon-like manner. It would be the ultimate try-before-you-buy, and you could do it from the comfort of your own home.
With powerful modern mobile devices, ever-improving artificial intelligence, and well-programmed augmented reality additions, the future could be closer than we think.