Wearable Clothing by Urban Research virtual dressing room vendor lets you try on clothing digitally, purchase online

Written by: William on July 7, 2014 at 9:29 am | In COOL PRODUCTS, LIFESTYLE | 1 Comment

Wearable Clothing by Urban Research is a virtual dressing room interactive digital unit was recently installed for a trial run in Ikebukuro Parco department. The fashion brand Urban Research created the unit which can be set up anywhere there’s electricity and wifi, and enough space. Like the many next-generation smart touchscreen vendors now commonly found in central Tokyo train stations, it uses a camera to scan the user’s body and in this case lets you browser Urban Research products, “try” them on, and connect to the label’s e-commerce platform so you can purchase them online.

The first test unit was available as a pop-up for use by shoppers (in English, Chines or Japanese) in Ikebukuro from June 17th to 30th. Look out for similar machines in train stations, departments stores and airport terminals; Urban Research plans to install six virtual fitting room vendors in 2014 and to have around 100 units in operation by 2020, including overseas. The brand already has a showroom in Taipei and wants to push the new virtual dressing room to Asian markets in the future, since it is much cheaper than opening up actual branches in new regions. Its online retail arm also currently occupies roughly a 20% share of its sales and it is aggressively expanding on this.

wearable clothing by urban research virtual digital dressing fitting room parco ikebukuro fashion retail

This kind of tryvertising technology has been developing in Japan for several years now. Past successes include Shiseido’s “digital cosmetic mirror”. Japan also has a well-established tradition of “unmanned shops”, from its thousands of varied vending machines to roadside vegetable stalls.

The Wearable Clothing system uses Kinect, a 60-inch LCD display, and an iPad. Kinect is increasingly the software of choice for these augmented reality virtual fitting units; a similar one for Topshop also utilized back in 2011. Urban Research spent a year working on the project with a web development company, spent some ¥20 million ($200,000) to create two initial vendors.

wearable clothing by urban research virtual digital dressing fitting room parco ikebukuro fashion retail

It responds to the user’s movements in real time as you try on your selected item (3D “real-time fitting”, as the makers term it) and even promises to give you a virtual experience of the texture of the clothing materials (so-called “cloth simulation”). As the Time Out blogger put it, “way more satisfying than fiddling with zips and buttons and bad lighting in a real dressing room.” If what you browse or try on takes your fancy, you can then add it to your basket and use the QR code it prints to access the brand’s online store and complete your purchase of the item.

wearable clothing by urban research virtual digital dressing fitting room parco ikebukuro fashion retail

Urban Research is boasting that this is the first example in the apparel industry of a single unit offering a virtual fitting and retail service all in one, as well as coordination with users’ social media.

The Wearable Clothing virtual fitting room is planned to appear next at Tokyo Skytree’s Solamachi mall this August.

The question, though, is whether in Japan, a culture with a very strong customer service ethos, could these types of virtual vendors truly take off and replace staffed stores completely?

wearable clothing by urban research virtual digital dressing fitting room parco ikebukuro fashion retail

[Image sources: here and here]


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Dance with idol Ayami Muto with this Ezaki-Glico Seventeen ice cream Shibuya vending machine

Written by: William on April 10, 2014 at 11:51 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Vending machines come in all shapes and sizes, and seem to sell everything from books to snacks, drinks, used panties and more.

But how about a vending machine that lets you have a private dance with an idol?

For one day only, Shibuya’s Marui City will let fans do just that.

It’s being organized by Ezaki-Glico, one of Japan’s biggest sweets makers, and especially as a promo for their long-standing Seventeen ice cream brand. While it is common to see Seventeen vending machines all over Tokyo, this is a whole new kind of experience.

ayami muto seventeen vending machine glico ezaki dance idol shibuya ice cream

The idol in question is a newbie, Ayami Muto, who is making her debut this spring.

On April 26th, brand ambassador Ayami Muto will be dancing on a big display on the Seventeen Ice Original Vending Machine, which changes depending on the flavor of Seventeen ice cream you choose. Ayami’s costume colors will also be different in each video to match the flavors, of which there are, not surprisingly, seventeen.

Dancers will have their movements digitally regenerated as computer graphics, to be put together later as a special animated video. If you dance correctly matching Ayami’s choreography then you can get yourself a complimentary ice cream — perfect as the weather turns hotter.

ayami muto seventeen vending machine glico ezaki dance idol shibuya ice cream

Vending machine boffins will probably have already spotted that this ice cream idol vendor is very similar to the Dance Dance Revolution vending machine from Coca-Cola that was a big hit in Korea in 2012.

Dancing with Ayami is free and Ayami herself is expecting to turn up in Shibuya as well at around 14:00, though we expect a dance with the physical idol might be asking too much.

Check out the vending machine from 11:00 to 19:00.


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Bra vending machine by une nana cool Fun Fun Week, now in Shibuya

Written by: William on August 9, 2013 at 10:36 am | In COOL PRODUCTS, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

One of those myths about Japan is the used panties vending machine. Well, these blogger at least has heard of genuine panty vending machines (at least the machines were real, though we can’t vouch for the validity of the “used” factor) but at any rate, they were very much in areas of town not visited by most of the population.

Now this may well do something to off-set the myth — or it might just tip the balance further into the “wacky Japan” zone.

Wacoal, one of the country’s leading lingerie makers, will be offering products from the wireless bra series Fun Fun Week by its subsidiary une nana cool for a limited time in Shibuya Parco. Okay, nothing new there, right? Except that the new autumn collection products are being sold via a vending machine.

japan bra vending machine une nana cool

So there you have it. A bra-dispensing vending machine.

You can purchase your bras at the vending machine from August 9th to 31st at Shibuya Parco, and then from September 1st to 30th at the une nana cool store in Futako-Tamagawa.

No decent pictures are available of the vending machine itself yet, but no doubt after it opens today there will be some floating around. Will this perpetuate more myths? Or are une nana cool bras cute enough to raise above the sniggering tide?


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Next-generation glasses vending machine touches down at Kansai Airport

Written by: William on September 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm | In COOL PRODUCTS, LIFESTYLE | 2 Comments

Jins, one of Japan’s big spectacles sellers, set up the country’s (the world’s?) first vending machine for glasses earlier this year in July.

The first ones were in Tokyo Bay and three other rather lackluster spots, namely Aeon malls in the ‘burbs.

They have since announced they are planning a further fifty locations, including now at Kansai Airport.

jins glasses vending machine japan

It’s not just a pop-in-your-coins kind of vendor either. This is a “next generation vending machine” (okay, these are often trumpeted but perhaps there is more than one generation round the corner?) and has a flashy name, the Jins Self Shop.

It is complete with touch panels and can go online to manage its stock. It even takes credit cards, a rarity in cash-happy Japan.

This is nice, since you see a lot of different kinds of things being sold from machines in Japan (bananas, batteries, canned coffee) but, except for prototypes and the occasional super energy-zapping hi-tech one, most are actually pretty low-fi. The novelty of the purchase is often the selling point.

Glasses in Japan are not your usual kettle of fish.

Jins and its main rival Zoff both run big ad campaigns and target young consumers. Jins uses Yu Aoi while Zoff has the equally lovely Kiko Mizuhara, plus they indulge in fancy augmented reality “digital glasses” projects from time to time too. Both chains also have large stores in Harajuku.

aoi yu jins kiko mizuhara zoff

We’ve always liked how almost all regular spectacles stores will usually have a little cleaning spray machine set up outside, so as you pass by you can give your specs a rinse. Especially useful in the humid summer!

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