Intellifit’s Laser Body-Sizing System Is a Good Fit with Apparel Industry
Shopping for clothes just got a lot easier. Step into one of the see-through Intellifit booths popping up in malls across America and within 10 seconds you will not only have a whole array of accurate body measurements, you will also receive a printout listing those brands and sizes at the mall that fit you best.
“In a sense we take a digital hologram of the person to achieve precise body measurements,” says Albert Charpentier, CEO of Horsham-based Intellifit.
Previous white-light or laser scanners required customers to undress and put on cycling shorts for their scans. But Intellifit technology uses low-power radio waves, allowing consumers to keep their street clothes on.
It’s That Simple
Step in. Get scanned. Get your size printout. Beats the fitting room any day.
“We use a very low power radar technology that is about one-one-thousandth of the power of a cell phone,” he says. “Similar to how the Doppler radar searches for water droplets in the air to create data points, we look for water on the surface of skin and create a three-dimensional map of your different body measurements — chest, waist, inseam and more.”
Originally the company’s concept was to make it easier for consumers to purchase clothing over the Internet. “Ben Franklin Technology Partners, which invested $150,000 in us in both 2000 and 2001, allowed us to explore the industry, consumer demands and the technology that would be needed to make that vision happen,” says Charpentier. The funding and business advice from BFTP helped Intellifit cross the bridge to the bricks-and-mortar retail environment.
Charpentier notes that there is a definite “sizing chaos” in the clothing industry, where one company’s size 8 is another’s size 6. In fact, companies often deliberately “size down” because studies have shown that, given the choice between a size 6 and size 8 with the same fit and style, people will say they like the size 6 much better.
Even within companies, sizes can vary. “We went to Levi Strauss and put the product through the ultimate test,” Charpentier says. “They lined up seven different styles of their own jeans and got 150 employees to take the 10 second scan. Some of the employees were a size 4 in one style and size 6 in another. They were so shocked. It was a real eye opener.”
Now, Levi Strauss is one of Intellifit’s marquee customers. The company installed the system in select stores, supports the system in a number of malls and has even taken the system on a multi-city tour to turn a traditional struggle — finding just the right pair of jeans — into a quick 10-second shopping experience.
Other high-profile clients include American Eagle, Gap, Dockers, Alfant and INC.
Ahead of the Curve
“This is a radically new technology that we couldn’t have pulled off 10 years ago,” Charpentier says. “The capability of today’s PCs to do math processing has really made this possible.”
Intellifit’s biggest obstacle isn’t consumer acceptance. “When people try it, they can’t believe how quick, easy and accurate it is,” Charpentier notes. “Our biggest challenge is that the retail apparel industry is slow to adopt new technology. The industry brands are a little skeptical, but as Internet shopping continues to grow, consumers getting better sizing information becomes a greater need.”
It’s in the Numbers
Intellifit, which started in 2000 and employs 17 people, uses advanced DSP in its calculations — and basic math (improved sales) in its sales pitch to stores.
In the retail world, for example, profit per square foot of floor space is everything. “In the case of Levi’s stores, they average around $10,000 per year from 50 square feet of floor space,” Charpentier says. “With our system in place, they have proven that they generate a lot more than $10,000 in incremental revenue. When the shopping experience is easier and quicker, people will buy more.”
Keynotes December, 2005
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