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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 August, 2003, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
The machine with fashion sense
Digital cameras measure the body
The cameras measure more than 1,000 points on the body
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but one company is leaving nothing to chance when it comes to clothes shopping.

The British firm QinetiQ has invented a "smart" changing room that uses digital camera images to tell shoppers what clothes look good on them.

QinetiQ - formerly the Defence Evaluation Research Agency - developed the system as a spin off from work on weapon range finders.

Customers will be delighted to know that the machine is not fitted with bitchy software and there is no sign of Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, stars of BBC's What Not To Wear.

Around six 3D cameras would be installed in each changing cubicle, to take pictures and record precise measurements from more than 1,000 points on their "subject".


After the data was fed into a computer, special software would match particular clothing styles to individual body shapes.

QinetiQ spokesman Douglas Millard said: "Like Trinny and Susannah, the system could advise on dress sense and what clothes suit the kind of body you have and what clothes don't flatter you.

The most important thing to remember, whatever your age, is to show one or the other - lots of boob or lots of leg. Showing both is like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube
A typical Trinny comment
"You can can choose to ignore the information if you want, but it could be of help to those of us with hopeless fashion sense."

If mass produced, the company said the cameras could cost as little as 30 each. QinetiQ is already in talks with clothing retailers.

The only existing laser scanning equipment that does a similar job costs more than 20,000. It is also bulky, slow, and only able to manage objects of limited size.

John Bannister, QinetiQ's optical technologies business manager, said: "The size, weight, accuracy and low cost of our device automatically lends itself to retail and a number of other applications, but we're confident that product designers will appreciate the potential and come up with others we haven't even considered."

One other possible application could be security and access control.The system could look for minute details that, for example, distinguish a person's facial features.

It could even tell the difference between a pair of "identical" twins.

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