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Volumental’s 3D Foot Scanner is No Longer Just For Stores

Volumental is taking its in-store 3D foot-scanning technology and putting in the palm of shoppers’ hands.

Known for its in-store foot scanner and integrated FitTech suite of 3D scanning and data tools designed to capture the dimensions of shoppers’ feet to provide them with accurate shoe recommendations, Volumental now offers the same capabilities for individual shoppers that it did for its retailers via a mobile device.

The mobile application is powered by computer vision-backed 3D foot measurement capabilities combined with measurements and purchase data from approximately 10 million shoppers (or 19 million feet). The app will be launched later in the summer. An API of the app also can be integrated into existing iOS apps for retailers and brands looking to leverage the technology.

Features within the Volumental app.

Features within the Volumental app.

When a shopper points the camera at their feet, they can collect a 3D measurement that is compared to the millions of other purchases and scanning data, all to generate the ideal-fitting shoe to purchase when shopping online.

Volumental built the app with the same technology that powers over 2,500 3D scanners in stores for retailers such as Fleet Feet, New Balance, Bauer, Allbirds, Ecc0, The Athlete’s Foot and XXL.

During a launch event, Volumental CEO and co-founder Alper Aydemir said advancements in mobile technologies, including cameras and sensors, helped the firm build a robust app and touted a deep database of customer scans that power its machine-learning algorithms.

Volumental’s recommendation algorithm is designed to becomes smarter and more accurate with each scan and purchase decision a user makes, accounting for preferences such as tighter- or looser-fitting footwear.

“Those two things meant that it’s just become possible to actually deliver this simple, intuitive user experience that we want to deliver,” Aydemir said. “This is not something you want to be too late or too early on. My phone has this graveyard of foot scanning apps that were launched too early to be either useful or easy to use.”

Users can create “smart foot” profiles by capturing measurements with their mobile devices. Their unique foot shape is then compared with the purchase data and measurements already captured from other customers to provide personalized recommendations, accounting for nearly a dozen critical measurements including length, width, arch height, forefoot height, heel width and more.

This data unlocks the type of personalization that helps deliver on the promise of omnichannel retail, providing each customer an individualized browsing experience based on their own foot profile and preferences.

“If you actually prefer your fit to be a little bit more snug than the average or a little bit looser than the average, we’re able to layer that into the recommendations,” Aydemir said.

Building out the app

Instead of using the iPhone’s Lidar technology or other depth sensors that use lasers to measure distance and are typically used for augmented reality apps, Volumental relied on tracking the accurate 3D positioning of the device’s camera as the user moves it around their feet. This aims to measure feet accurately in a wide variety of settings.

To establish the app’s camera tracking capabilities in the app development process, Volumental performed thousands of experiments with an industrial robot.

Once this portion of the testing was complete, Volumental had thousands of use-testers take top-down images of their feet at home, with and without socks, to make sure the app will work anywhere.

Roxana Arroyo, user experience researcher at Volumental, said shoppers were invited to the office for an initial test, where the team could observe them and capture in-the-moment feedback on the app’s capabilities. The second remote test enabled developers to get a sense of how it would be used in a home environment.

Here, a user testing out the Volumental app within their own home.

Here, a user testing out the Volumental app within their own home.

This exercise was helpful for Volumental in designing the app, teaching developers how people intuitively think about photographing their feet and helping to surface common user errors that shoppers would make. The information collected directly informed the user interface design, she said.

“Finally, we started testing with larger samples of users to track UX metrics such as scan success rate and scanning time,” Arroyo said. “We used a combination of methods, both qualitative and quantitative to gather all the insights we need to make informed decisions about the development of the app. Throughout this journey. We’ve also partnered with some of our retail customers to test the app within their environments. By collaborating with them, we’ve been able to gather additional data that’s helped us validate the performance of the UX.”

From the user testing, Volumental saw a “high and consistent” scan success rate, with most users going through the scanning experience within three minutes, according to Arroyo.

“The quickest users are even able to complete a scan in under 90 seconds,” Arroyo said.

Beyond the fit implications, Volumental says the technology aims to improve the costly returns process for retailers and brands. The foot scanning platform cited Incisiv’s Retail Returns survey, saying that 97 percent of retailers see an opportunity to reduce return rates by an average of 31 percent.

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