Move over, cosmetics companies. The athletic shoes industry wants to be able to give its customers the opportunity to try products in increased reality as well.
A new mobile app from the expanded reality communication company Wannaby, named Wanna Kicks, uses smartphone and tablets to show users which shoes look on their feet from different angles in real time.
The app contains 10 styles of sneakers from Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Puma, Under Armor, Vans, Asics and Belarus-based Lidskie, with most styles offering customers two to four color options that users can exchange directly while watching the digital kicks. When customers sit down on a shoe they like, the app helps them find it directly from the shoemaker's online store.
Wanna Kicks is now available for iPhones and iPads via the App Store, with an Android version coming later in 2019.  Sneakerheads can use this augmented reality app to see how the new kicks look at their feet  Picture of Wannaby / YouTube
Virtual trial experiences are old hat for Wannaby, a company that previously released apps to try nail polish and jewelry. As with the selfie effects that became popular with Snapchat, Wannaby uses machine learning to recognize feet, overlay the 3D content and track motion.
"We use sophisticated 3D geometric algorithms along with neural networks to identify the position of shoes in a space," said Sergey Arkhangelskiy, CEO of Wannaby, in a statement. "These algorithms are the secret sauce of our application and our main innovation. Then we combine it with the information of the rest of the foot to determine which parts of the shoe are sealed."
According to a company chairman, Wannaby uses original 3D design models provided by manufacturers supplemented with photogrammetry to give the models a more realistic structure. The company uses as many as 300 images in different angles and lighting conditions per shoe and combines the image with the 3D model through specialized software.
"The finishing step is the actual management," says Arkhangelskiy, a former software engineer at Google. "We are dependent on our custom physically based purification engine with extensive support of different materials so that you can tell the difference between rubber sole from the fabric finish on a top of a sneakers."
Just like trying on real shoes, the app works better when users do not wear shoes. For the most part, the virtual shoes look like they are actually food. In my limited testing, the tears stood out constantly, but in subsequent trials the tracking was more accurate. More importantly, the app gave me a good impression of what the shoe would look like on my feet.
So we can now add shoemakers to the list of companies that can ensure increased reality to start trusting consumers about their online purchases. In addition to trying out cosmetics, consumers can now use AR to see which furniture from Ikea and Target fit into their home, how a new Porsche or BMW will look in its driveway and preview electronics and other items from Amazon and Jet.com.
As the technology's potential goes ahead, the scope of AR marketing will be limited only by the fantasies of the sales and marketing groups whose task is to create such sales experiences.
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