Is this software like having a virtual “personal shopper?”


Visual recognition specialists Cortexica, based in London, developed cool software that replicates the way the human eye and brain work together to recognize patterns. This process, which has evolved over millions of years of evolution, is now little more than a smartphone camera click away. Half a million items of clothing, with full stockist details for potential purchasers, already sit on virtual clothes racks on Cortexica’s servers. Their technology takes and interprets photos of clothes on mannequins, catwalk models or people on the street and suggests similar or subtly different items. ShopStyle and Style Thief are among the leading brands that have already integrated this. A method which takes any photo of an outfit and recommends similar items, is taking the U.S. by storm. The unique FindSimilar software has been made publicly available ahead of the busy Christmas shopping season.

The software, created by Cortexica’s Vision Systems, uses FindSimilar software to mimic the way the brain processes images and finds similarities. A picture of a dress, a blouse or a shirt can be analyzed by the software which then delivers similar alternatives. Search results are based on a combination of pattern, style, color and overall design. This broadens choice and helps shoppers find items that are more affordable or simply closer to their personal taste. Several leading U.S. fashion services and retailers have shown interest in the technology which is being integrated into websites and mobile phone-based apps. Online fashion search engine ShopStyle has integrated the software into the new version of its free app while Style Thief’s, which relies entirely on images for search, has also integrated the software.

A shopper in a local mall could use such apps by simply taking a picture on their smartphone camera. A quick snap of a shop window mannequin, a magazine picture of an item of clothing, someone in the street or a catwalk model is all that’s needed to look for similar items which are then presented for potential in-app purchase.

Iain McCready, CEO of Cortexica, said: “Our benchmark for this software was to develop something intelligent and discerning enough to satisfy the Miranda Priestly’s of the world. We’re delighted that our technology has been so well received. For a retailer, having an app powered by our software is a bit like putting your own shop assistant into a competitor’s store.”

He added: “We all recognize that deep feeling of frustration after hunting for an item of clothing that we’ve seen or admired or the experience of finding something and wishing we could find a better or sometimes more affordable alternative. Our software is the answer to these perennial problems.”

The software will also enable shoppers to takeĀ visual clues from other sourcesĀ such as wallpaper or color swatches and deliver matching results.

The Cortexica software is adaptable and able to learn over time. It mimics calculations made by the human brain when processing images. By doing so, the software finds visual key points of interest tied to patterns. The FindSimilar technology works with images and videos, opening up an array of opportunities with YouTube videos, Pinterest and Instagram images, and many more.

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