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IIT-D, Mirrorsize use AI to dress India right


NEW DELHI :

For more than a decade, the Indian government has been attempting to provide people of this country the convenience of walking into a mall and buying the right-fitting India-size shirt, trouser or dress, rather than an ill-fitting garment that is a tweaked version of another country’s standardized size.

The textiles ministry is developing an India-specific standardized size chart for the textiles and garment industry with the help of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and 3D body scanners, while the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-Delhi) has signed an agreement with New Delhi-based deeptech startup Mirrorsize to use an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered app to achieve a similar goal but with a different approach.

In March 2018, the textiles ministry announced that NIFT would undertake a study to come up with a size chart for Indians and complete the project in 2-3 years. The National Sizing Survey of India project cost was pegged at 31 crore, with the textiles ministry contributing 21 crore and NIFT the rest. The chart was to be prepared with the help of 3D scanners that would take computerized body measurements of 25,000 men and women, aged 15 to 65, in six cities—New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Shillong, and Hyderabad. The project remains a work in progress.

Mirrorsize will not use the unwieldy and expensive 3D body scanners. Instead, it hopes to do the trick with the help of a 3D body measurement app that uses AI, advanced computer vision, deep learning models and mesh processing to instantly provide precise body measurements.

“Our patent-pending technology allows a user to wear skin tight or regular clothing while using the app by using a combination of image processing and data analytics to display body measurements,” said Arup Chakraborty, founder and chief executive officer, Mirrorsize.

The Mirrorsize app, available on iOS and Android devices, also shows users their 3D avatars. The installation of 3D body scanners is typically restricted to shopping malls and other public spaces because of its size and cost. However, the app can be used by anyone in the comfort of their homes by simply downloading it on their smartphones.

Once the Mirrorsize app captures the data, “IIT-Delhi will use data analytics and statistical modelling to come up with up to 60 standard sizes for all body types in India. The app is expected to be ready for use by the end of this year”, said Deepti Gupta, professor of the department of textile and fibre engineering at IIT-Delhi.

People typically think of sizes as small, medium, large, and extra large, she said. However, “our system will come up with 50-60 very customized sizes for textile and garment manufacturers”, she said.

One reason for introducing so many sizes instead of having four standard sizes is that a ‘standardized size’ would require approval from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), according to Gupta. Second, Indians who span across different geographical regions in India, have different body types. Third, production of garments can be made not only to cater to the different body types but also according to the size requirements of a specific industry.

IIT-Delhi will require the support of the government and industries to popularize the use of the app, Gupta said. “We have no external funding. We will be exhorting our own students to use the app to begin with,” she said. “We hope that the industry will come forward and also provide incentives to users to voluntarily use the app,” she said. IIT-Delhi will not make the app available to children. “We will start with the 25-45 age group. We will ensure that the data of potential users will be protected though they volunteer for this project,” Gupta said.

The approaches are different, but the projects by NIFT and IIT-Delhi augur well for companies that are associated with the textiles and garments industry.

Ill-fitting or odd-size garments is not good news for e-commerce firms and malls, as users typically return such garments either in person or by courier, adding to the supply chain costs of these firms. Besides, designers are forced to take measurements of clients according to the US or UK size charts and convert them to the Indian scale before creating garments, adding to their cost and angst. The current projects have the potential of reducing the need for alterations and returns because of ill-fitting garments.

Countries that have successfully completed national sizing surveys include the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Korea, China, and Australia. With the help of such projects, India may soon join this select band. 

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