Consumers on the move will soon be assisted with clothing selection by their smartphones. New software from a spin-out company of London’s Imperial College mimics the way the eye and brain communicate.

By emulating the brain’s process of analysing images, software, Cortexica, can examine a photo of a shirt, blouse or dress, for example, and locate items that hold similar characteristics, such as colour shape and design.

Cortexica utilises a technique known as ‘parallel probabilistic computation’. This aptitude enables the software to learn over time, imitating calculations made by neurons in the primary visual cortex of the human brain.

Assisting With Automobile Purchases

EBay Motors already uses Cortexica in its app to find identical vehicles when a user photographs a car. The image is analysed instantly and cars that are available for sale on eBay are listed for easy browsing.

Several UK fashion retailers are testing the new software, which will be integrated into websites and apps for mobile phones. They are hoping it will help consumers make more informed decisions by widening their search for clothes.

When the software launches in the autumn, there will be the option to take visual clues from other sources such as wallpaper or colour swatches in order to deliver appropriate results. Cortexica wants to end the current haphazard method of finding clothing to suit individual tastes.

Real-world Use

The company behind the software has high hopes for it being used in all manner of scenarios. If a consumer spies clothing somebody else is wearing, they could use Cortexica to deliver similar, possibly better options that would save buying the same item.

Fashion-followers will have the chance to stay ahead of the curve. They will be able to snap an image of a model featured in a magazine or on a blog and find similar articles of clothing long before that particular item hits the high street.

Cortexica CEO, Iain McCready, knows all about the deep-rooted frustration consumers feel when they fail to find a clothing item after a relentless search. He dreams of being able to completely solve this issue with the launch of his software.

“[Shoppers have] had the experience of seeing an expensive item and wondering whether they might be able to find something similar and far more affordable,” mused McCready. “Our software is the answer to these perennial problems.”