Bloomingdale’s and Microsoft team up on in-store engagement

NEW YORK — Fashion and technology combine to surprise customers and engage them in new ways at Bloomingdale’s flagship in New York City and other locations across the country.  The department store retailer had deployed a 3D virtual dressing room, called Swivel, which is supported by Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect for Windows motion sensing technology. With Swivel, customers can “try on” clothes without having to go through the actual physical process.

To use Swivel, from FaceCake Marketing Technologies, the customer steps in front of the screen, chooses her preferred look with a wave of her hand, and then sees the look displayed on her image in real time on the HD flat screen.  The customer can instantly share the image via email and social media channels that are built into the technology.

In addition, the technology has a data base component that provides real-time and/or daily reports on what looks (or products) are generating the most interest.

The virtual dressing rooms, which have been installed in 20 Bloomingdale’s locations nationwide, will remain in place through September 6 -16. They are timed to coincide with the retailer’s semi-annual HOT event, which celebrates the best trends of the season. Approximately 150 pieces of clothing and accessory products from the HOT event are available for try-on using Swivel.

In other Bloomingdale’s-Microsoft collaborations, the retailer’s Manhattan flagship is the temporary home of the "Printing Dress,” from Microsoft Research, which incorporates computer components into a high-tech dress made almost entirely of paper. With an integrated projector, the dress showcases tweets in real time on the hoop of its skirt. The dress won Best Concept and Best in Show at the 15th annual International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC) in San Francisco last summer.

“This is a research project — we’re not looking to get into dress making,” said Kim Stocks, director, corporate communications, Microsoft. “But it explores the further intersection of fashion and technology, which is something that Bloomingdale’s and Microsoft are both interested in."

Bloomingdale’s also is bringing pedestrians into the action. The retailer has embedded sensors into a display window of its Manhattan flagship that allow passers-by to select an outfit for a virtual mannequin featured in the display. Using touch, the customer can mix and match the outfit and accessorize it to her liking.

“Two of the big trends we’re seeing in technology now are represented at Bloomingdale’s,” Stocks said. “One is that the physical and virtual worlds are colliding to create new experiences for the customer. And the other is the use of natural user interface technology, or technology that can respond to voice, gestures, touch and the like.”

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