While shopping online is commonplace, the experiences people have while online shopping vary greatly. Forgive me for oversimplifying, but companies that offer goods and services for purchase via connection to the public Internet tend to favor the web or mobile (wap or app). And, they tend to be hardcore commerce or hardcore experiential, but not both and, to be honest… I have rarely seen any electronic shopping environment that literally “turned my head” until now.

It is my absolute pleasure to wax poetic about www.glasses.com and its new app, which is available for iPad at the Apple App Store.

I think 3Dfit, the proprietary technology used in the app, is groundbreaking, and the glasses.com app is the best online shopping experiences ever created. You’re going to think so, too.

Why? Because not only does 3Dfit let you try on virtually every pair of glasses and sunglasses on the whole planet, it does two things for you that you can’t do in a retail environment, or by yourself. First, it lets you privately see how you will really look in your new glasses or sunglasses without someone taking a picture of you.

Glasses.com Full Screen View

Then, much more importantly, it lets you try on up to four pair of glasses or sunglasses at a time. (BTW: Notice the shadows under the glasses on my face? They are computer generated and move as you move the glasses… it’s awesome!!!)

Glasses.com Gallery View
You can view up to four pairs of glasses at one time through the app.

This is a completely new Internet shopping experience and is actually an improvement over a physical retail shopping experience. In fact, the only thing that a brick and mortar retailer could fight back with is that you can’t tell if the glasses are truly comfortable to wear unless you try them on. Now, I wear glasses — and comfort, frame size, thickness, peripheral vision and fit on my nose are important to me. But it has not been an issue with any pair of frames I’ve tried on in recent memory.

Physical retail vs. virtual retail aside, here’s how it works:

Glasses.com's 3D Rendering
A quick scan of your face is all you need to virtually try on as many pairs of glasses and sunglasses as you’d like.

First you make a 3D avatar of yourself. You place your iPad against a mirror, as the company says that’s the best way to take your picture. Center your head in the cut-out on screen, then follow the simple instructions: look left, slowly turn to the right, then turn to look at it straight on once again. That’s it!

Next, the app creates a custom 3D rendering of your head, which you’ll be able to control through a handful of gestures.

As you browse through the world of frames and lens colors, if you see a pair you like, just tap on it to expand it to full screen.

Glasses.com's Full Screen View

Want to check out what the glasses’ arms look like? A two-finger slide up lets you raise them off your rendering’s ears to get a closer look:

Glasses.com's Arms View

Once you get a better sense of the glasses you might want to buy, you’re able to tap the little heart icon (accessible in both the gallery and full screen modes) to add that pair to your list of favorites. Not sure which pair to pick from between your top two? You’re able to share your picks with friends and family over the social networking integration built into the app. You can share the images on Facebook, Twitter or via e-mail, can iMessage them to someone or save it to your iPad.

The Future is Here Now

As awesome as glasses.com’s 3Dfit app is, I am more impressed by what it represents. Imagine when you own your full body avatar (or some large advertiser stores it in a virtual locker for you in its cloud) and you are virtually trying on clothing or fitting yourself for sporting equipment. 3D Avatars and the quasi-ray tracing algorithms being used in this app are the great-great-great-grandparents of what is to come.

Up to now, 3D shopping avatars have been limited by technology, so we’ve been dealing with digital Colorforms. It’s over! Real skin tones, real lighting, real color, real sizes, real fit: it’s all here. Kudos to Jonathan Coon and the team at 1800Contacts and glasses.com for showing us just how interesting online shopping can be. glasses.com has thrown down the gauntlet… the technology to create emotionally satisfying, online3D shopping is here… how will you use it?

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.


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