Fitterli, an Israeli-developed platform that could eventually boost online clothing sales is the winner of Intel’s Business Challenge Europe 2014. Fitterli provides technology to web clothing retailers that lets users create an online avatar that can try on clothing. It will now go on to the World Business Challenge finals, set for California later this year
While retail sales in many categories are being decimated by the Internet, the clothing business has not suffered as much. In fact, it’s the web-based clothing retailers who are suffering, as about half the clothing purchased on line is returned. Often, fit is the issue, but looks are also a problem. Many consumers complain that outfits just don’t look as good on them as they had expected.
If returns are a problem for on-line retailers, “trying on” syndrome is a problem for brick and mortar stores. Customers looking for a bargain will try on outfits in a department store, retail clothing industry experts say, and then use an app like Amazon Price Check — which lets you check the on-line price of a product – by swiping its barcode.
Fitterli’s platform hopes to solve the problems on both sides of the device screen. Sites using the system offer shoppers an opportunity to upload a scan of themselves, which, using advanced algorithms, is turned into a virtual full-body avatar. That avatar can then try on outfits to see how they look. Key to the system is the exactness of the avatar – and according to Fitterli, the avatar is extremely accurate, taking into account all of a person’s features, even down to “unsightly bulges.”
While fashion – virtual or otherwise – doesn’t sound like it would be up Intel’s alley, the company has become interested in the sector in recent years, as wearable technology becomes ever more popular. “We expect 500 million wearables to be sold annually by the end of the decade,” said Neil Cox of Intel Europe in an interview. “We’ve spoken to a lot of companies in recent months, and they have a lot of great ideas on how they would use wearable tech.” To develop that wearable tech, Cox said, Intel recently announced several partnerships with manufacturers and retailers, including Barneys, a high-end New York fashion emporium. The partnership was announced at this year’s CES international electronics show in Las Vegas.
The Business Challenge ceremony took place in the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, and the top five winning awards were announced by Evaldas Gustas, minister of economy of the Republic of Lithuania. Fitterli, along with four other European firms, will represent Europe at the Intel Global Challenge 2014 Finals at UC Berkeley later this year. Teams competing in the EMEA Finals in Vilnius came from 12 countries: Israel, Norway, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, UK, Bulgaria, Ireland, Denmark and Poland.
All participating teams received coaching and support from international experts throughout their preparations to refine their ideas, create viable business plans and hone their presentations to attract interest and investment. The jury consisted of venture capitalists, academics and business leaders — including Jakub Probola, managing director of Hub:raum, Julie Meyer, CEO of Ariadne Capital, and Mindaugas Glodas, general manager at Nextury Ventures.
For Intel, the win is another example of advanced Israeli technology at work. “Fitterli fits right in with Intel’s expansion into the Internet of Things,” said Intel Israel spokesperson Guy Grimland. “The 3D technology offered by Fitterli is the kind of innovation Intel has come to expect from Israel, which has developed technology that has enabled the company to strike out on new and exciting paths that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.”