What do you get when you cross the $500 billion dollar fashion industry with the world’s “fastest selling consumer device“, Kinect for XBox 360? Hint: it’s not a game. It’s the future of fashion: a rich, interactive experience in real time.
The XBox Kinect is already being used for a myriad of real-life applications. Now, designers can leverage Kinect technology to revolutionize fashion shows and bring their ideas to life in ways never seen before. When I witnessed Chris Milk’s Kinect-powered triptych installation “The Treachery of Sanctuary” at the Creator’s Project last month, I immediately thought of the large white screen as a common thread in many fashion shows. Imagine a runway show where the movement of the models changes the backdrop behind them.
Usually blank or simply printed with the designers name, Issac Mizrahi actually used that blank white screen as part of his S/S 1994 runway show. He used a scrim and lighting effects to alternately illuminate and hide the backstage. What resulted was a voyeuristic but innovative way to engage the audience. No, I wasn’t at that fashion show, and yes, this was before you could watch the shows online, but you can see for yourself in the documentary Unzipped.
The blank white screen re-emerged and was re-imagined when Project Runway came on the scene. Each model, before her turn down the catwalk, freezes in a pose that creates a dramatic image behind the backdrop. I see Milk’s triptych – and other Kinect installations – as the next coolest thing. Instead of just striking a pose a model could generate images specific to the theme of the show, her outfit, or even something specific to the audience, to capture their attention in a new way. Paired with some of the more conceptual designers, a Kinect integration could add an entirely new level of avant gardism.
Brands can also use Kinect to engage directly with consumers. At the Lucky FABB (Fashion And Beauty Bloggers) conference last week I had such an experience, hosted by Michael Stars. Facing me on the screen was a scrollable interface which allowed me to select items and build an outfit. Virtual try-on is also being explored for the web, but using the Kinect makes the experience feel more fun and immediate. The fit technology isn’t precise, but it’s handy for visualizing and planning outfits And if you want your customer to have some degree of interaction with your goods, it’s far more portable than bringing real merchandise or supplying a fitting room.
There are so many possibilities for fashion-forward Kinect integrations, what might the future hold? Combined with an HD camera and HD graphics, Kinect could become an entirely new tool for fashion photography. Style bloggers could use the interface to perfect their poses for outfit shots, for example. Or, what about an interactive closet organizer? This is also an area being developed on the web, but how cool would it be to scroll through your closet and try out different outfits with a wave of your hand? What else can you think of? Leave your ideas in the comments, and maybe when somebody creates these applications we’ll all get a share of the profits.