Zugara

Last updated

Zugara
Industry Technology, Software, Ecommerce
FoundedLos Angeles, California, United States, (2001)
Headquarters
Los Angeles, California, United States
Area served
Worldwide
Products Webcam Social Shopper
Website www.zugara.com

Zugara is an American corporation headquartered in Los Angeles, California, United States that develops and licenses Augmented Reality software and creates Natural User Interface experiences for brands.

Contents

Zugara was founded in March 2001 as an interactive marketing company with a focus on interactive strategy and web application development. From 2001 to 2008, the company created award-winning interactive campaigns for Fortune 500 brands including Sony PlayStation, Activision Blizzard, Reebok, Toyota, Lexus, Casio and The U.S. Air Force. [1] In early 2009, Zugara shifted focus to Augmented Reality software development and began development on Augmented Reality technologies and SDK's. Later that year, the company launched an early prototype of the Webcam Social Shopper Augmented Reality ecommerce product.

On September 25, 2012, Zugara was granted US Patent No. 8,275,590 for "Providing a simulation of wearing items such as garments and/or accessories". [2] The patent covers Zugara's augmented reality technology that powers Virtual dressing rooms. [3]

History

2001–2006: Interactive Strategy

Zugara's early efforts included award-winning interactive campaigns such as 'RBK Whodunit?' that featured integration of digital efforts with television, out of home and other advertising channels. [4] [5] Zugara cited the RBK Whodunit campaign's ability to drive 33% of site visitors to a retail location to interact with the product as the primary success of the campaign. [6] The following years saw Zugara continue to focus on interactive video initiatives with another award-winning campaign with GSD&M and The U.S. Air Force, called Do Something Amazing. The campaign and interactive component featured interactive video of the F-22 Raptor and other U.S. Air Force vehicles. The campaign was featured as a Pick of The Week by Ad Age's Creativity magazine. [7]

Zugara's other notable work included interactive marketing campaigns for Sony PlayStation properties including The Getaway, God of War, Gran Turismo 4 and the PSP.

2007–2008: User Interface and User Experience

In 2007, Zugara's focus turned to User Interface and User Experience design for clients including Toyota and Lexus. Initial notable work with User Interface design included concepting a new method for building your Lexus online. Zugara also applied its User Interface expertise for touchscreen kiosk initiatives for the U.S. Air Force.

2009–present: Augmented Reality Software Development

In June 2009, Zugara launched The Webcam Social Shopper Augmented Reality ecommerce prototype. Cited initially as an "Augmented Reality Dressing Room", The Webcam Social Shopper allows online shoppers to use a webcam to visualize virtual garments on themselves while shopping online. [8] The software also uses a motion capture system that allows users to use hand motions to navigate the software while standing back from their computer. Social media integration with Facebook and Twitter also allows users of the software to send pictures of themselves with the virtual garments for immediate feedback.

Though the Webcam Social Shopper has also been called virtual fitting room or virtual dressing room software, Zugara has referred to the software as an advanced product visualization tool for retailers. [9]

Later in 2009, Zugara was ranked by VentureBeat as one of the top Augmented Reality startups. [10]

Shortly thereafter, Zugara officially announced that it was focusing on Augmented Reality software development exclusively. [11] Zugara's technologies were soon being utilized by AT&T for a World Cup Augmented Reality Soccer engagement and by Orange Silicon Valley for an Augmented Reality telemedicine prototype. [12] [13]

Products

Webcam Social Shopper

The Webcam Social Shopper is Zugara's flagship product. The company developed the product when noticing that online shopping conversion rates were stuck between 2% to 3%. Though online shopping was optimized for searching and browsing, it was not optimized for an engaging experience like in-store retail experiences at a mall. With the software turning an online shopper's webcam into a mirror, it was creating the offline 'at the rack' moment for shoppers at home. This helped shoppers make a more informed purchase decision by seeing an item on themselves through their webcam. [14] [15]

In November 2009, the Webcam Social Shopper was first deployed as Fashionista by online fashion site, Tobi.com. This initial version of the Webcam Social Shopper, used an augmented reality marker for placement of the virtual garment on the subject. [16]

In February 2011, a new version of the Webcam Social Shopper was debuted publicly for the first time at the DEMO conference in Palm Springs, California and won the DEMOgod award. [17] This latest version of the software removed the need for a marker and instead used facial tracking for placement of the virtual garment. Dubbed the "Plug and Play" version of the Webcam Social Shopper, this version of the software was designed for easier integration for retailers and ecommerce sites. [18]

In June 2011, UK Fashion Retailer, Banana Flame, was the first retailer to integrate the Plug and Play version of the virtual dressing room software. According to Matthew Szymczyk, CEO of Zugara, the new version of the Webcam Social Shopper can be integrated by a retailer in less than a day. Banana Flame deployed the software to offer a virtual dressing room for online shoppers to "try on" the clothes virtually on Banana Flame's website. [19]

On July 10, 2012, Zugara released an API for the Webcam Social Shopper for ecommerce platform integration. PrestaShop was the first ecommerce platform to offer the new Webcam Social Shopper module to its 127,000 retailers. In less than a week, over 140 retailers had downloaded the module. [20]

On October 3, 2013, Zugara released a Kinect enabled version of its Webcam Social Shopper software called, "WSS For Kiosks". [21] On December 10, 2013, PayPal debuted a mobile payments enhanced version of WSS For Kiosks at the LeWeb conference in Paris. [22]

Virtual Style Sense

On January 13, 2014, Zugara announced a new technology for in-store retailers called "Virtual Style Sense". In partnership with Samsung, this Virtual dressing room technology for in-store retailers debuted at the National Retail Conference's Big Show in New York. [23]

Critical Acclaim

Online Retail results

  • Internet Retailer published a report on Virtual Fitting Rooms and Fit Simulators on February 1, 2012. Danish social shopping comparison site LazyLazy.com deployed the Webcam Social Shopper in late 2011 and saw its conversion rate immediately jump with 17% of shoppers using the software converting 2 to 3 times more than those who did not use the software. [26]
  • In February 2012, the Mattel brand, Barbie, used a kiosk-enabled version of the Webcam Social Shopper for a New York Fashion Week event where attendees could try on virtual Barbie outfits. [27] Data released by Zugara, showed that the web version of the Barbie Dream Closet software showed increased usage over a 3-month period. From February 2012 to April 2012 use of the software increased from 20% to 33% and 50% of those users took an average of 6 photos each. [28]

Technologies

Zugara's Augmented Reality and Computer Vision technologies are used together for the company's Webcam Social Shopper product. However, Zugara has also used these individual technologies for brand applications and prototype development.

ZugMO Motion Capture

ZugMO motion capture technology allows online users to interact with their webcam based on gestural motions. ZugMO technology has been used by brands including Nestle, Toyota, Olay and Purina. [29] [30] [31] [32]

ZugMUG Facial Tracking

ZugMUG is a facial tracking technology that allows the webcam to track the users face through the webcam interface. For the Webcam Social Shopper product, this allows a virtual garment to track to an individual's face for better placement of the virtual item. The technology has also been used in a Virtual Exam application for Anthem that allowed virtual medical instruments to track to a person's eyes, ears and mouth. [30]

ZugSTAR Interactive Video Chat

ZugSTAR technology is short for Zugara Streaming Augmented Reality. This technology allows multiple participants to share an Augmented Reality experience in an interactive video chat interface. Zugara debuted a ZugSTAR prototype integrated with The Webcam Social Shopper at the IAB Poland conference in Warsaw and again at the NRF Big Show in New York City in 2010. [33]

Though many people have doubted the utility of initial Augmented Reality technology, ReadWriteWeb cited ZugSTAR as "one of the most clearly way more useful." [34]

Industry Criticism

Zugara has been an outspoken critic of conceptual Augmented Reality, citing that Augmented Reality companies have not been focused on monetizing the technology. [35]

Press

Related Research Articles

E-commerce is the activity of electronically buying or selling of products on online services or over the Internet. Electronic commerce draws on technologies such as mobile commerce, electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange (EDI), inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems. E-commerce is in turn driven by the technological advances of the semiconductor industry, and is the largest sector of the electronics industry.

Augmented reality View of the real world with computer-generated supplementary features

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory. AR can be defined as a system that fulfills three basic features: a combination of real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects. The overlaid sensory information can be constructive, or destructive. This experience is seamlessly interwoven with the physical world such that it is perceived as an immersive aspect of the real environment. In this way, augmented reality alters one's ongoing perception of a real-world environment, whereas virtual reality completely replaces the user's real-world environment with a simulated one. Augmented reality is related to two largely synonymous terms: mixed reality and computer-mediated reality.

Webcam computer-connected video camera that streams its image in real time to a computer network

A webcam is a video camera that feeds or streams an image or video in real time to or through a computer to a computer network, such as the Internet. Webcams are typically small cameras that sit on a desk, attach to a user's monitor, or are built into the hardware. Webcams can be used during a video chat session involving two or more people, with conversations that include live audio and video. For example, Apple's iSight camera, which is built into Apple laptops, iMacs and a number of iPhones, can be used for video chat sessions, using the iChat instant messaging program. Webcam software enables users to record a video or stream the video on the Internet. As video streaming over the Internet requires much bandwidth, such streams usually use compressed formats. The maximum resolution of a webcam is also lower than most handheld video cameras, as higher resolutions would be reduced during transmission. The lower resolution enables webcams to be relatively inexpensive compared to most video cameras, but the effect is adequate for video chat sessions.

Social software, also known as social apps, include communication and interactive tools often based on the Internet. Communication tools typically handle the capturing, storing and presentation of communication, usually written but increasingly including audio and video as well. Interactive tools handle mediated interactions between a pair or group of users. They focus on establishing and maintaining a connection among users, facilitating the mechanics of conversation and talk. Social software generally refers to software that makes collaborative behaviour, the organisation and moulding of communities, self-expression, social interaction and feedback possible for individuals. Another element of the existing definition of social software is that it allows for the structured mediation of opinion between people, in a centralized or self-regulating manner. The most improved area for social software is that Web 2.0 applications can all promote cooperation between people and the creation of online communities more than ever before.

Interactive communication is an exchange of ideas where both participants, whether human, machine or art form, are active and can have an effect on one another. It is a dynamic, two-way flow of information.

Mixed reality Merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments

Mixed reality (MR) is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations, where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Mixed reality does not exclusively take place in either the physical or virtual world, but is a hybrid of reality and virtual reality, encompassing both augmented reality and augmented virtuality via immersive technology.

Online shopping is a form of electronic commerce which allows consumers to directly buy goods or services from a seller over the Internet using a web browser. Consumers find a product of interest by visiting the website of the retailer directly or by searching among alternative vendors using a shopping search engine, which displays the same product's availability and pricing at different e-retailers. As of 2020, customers can shop online using a range of different computers and devices, including desktop computers, laptops, tablet computers, smartphones, and smart speakers.

Interactive media media requiring interaction from the user to be understood, executed, or experienced

Interactive media normally refers to products and services on digital computer-based systems which respond to the user's actions by presenting content such as text, moving image, animation, video, audio, and video games.

Social shopping is a method of e-commerce where shoppers' friends become involved in the shopping experience. Social shopping attempts to use technology to mimic the social interactions found in physical malls and stores. With the rise of mobile devices, social shopping is now extending beyond the online world and into the offline world of shopping.

Augmented learning is an on-demand learning technique where the environment adapts to the learner. By providing remediation on-demand, learners can gain greater understanding of a topic while stimulating discovery and learning.

Omnichannel is a cross-channel content strategy that organizations use to improve their user experience and drive better relationships with their audience across points of contact. Rather than working in parallel, communication channels and their supporting resources are designed and orchestrated to cooperate. Omnichannel implies integration and orchestration of channels such that the experience of engaging across all the channels someone chooses to use is as, or even more, efficient or pleasant than using single channels in isolation.

Virtual dressing room

A virtual dressing room is the online equivalent of an in-store changing room. It enables shoppers to try on clothes to check one or more of size, fit or style, but virtually rather than physically.

The Webcam Social Shopper, often referred to as virtual dressing room software, debuted online in June 2009 and was created by Los Angeles-based software company, Zugara. Cited initially as an "Augmented Reality Dressing Room", The Webcam Social Shopper allows online shoppers to use a webcam to visualize virtual garments on themselves while shopping online. The software also uses a motion capture system that allows users to use hand motions to navigate the software while standing back from their computer. Social media integration with Facebook and Twitter also allows users of the software to send pictures of themselves with the virtual garments for immediate feedback.

Metaio was a privately held Augmented Reality (AR) company that developed software technology and provided augmented reality solutions. Headquartered in Munich, Germany, with subsidiaries in San Francisco, California, New York City, New York and Dallas, Texas, metaio provided a software development kit (SDK) for programming PC, web, mobile and custom offline augmented reality applications. Additionally, Metaio was the creator of Junaio, a free mobile AR browser available for Android and iOS devices. On 28 May 2015 it was reported that Metaio GmbH was acquired by Apple Inc for an undisclosed sum.

Augment (app) augmented reality software

Augment is an augmented reality SaaS platform that allows users to visualize their products in 3D in real environment and in real-time through tablets or smartphones. The software can be used for Retail, E-Commerce, architecture, and other purposes.

Digital Fashion is the visual representation of clothing built using computer technologies and 3D software. 3D Fashion design is developed using softwares like CLO. CLO is a 3D fashion design software that builds virtual, true-to life garment visualisation with cutting-edge simulation technologies for the fashion industry. 3D Fashion design has been pioneered by such designers as, Cat Taylor. Cat Taylor, better known as Cattytay, has been bridging the gaps between Fashion, Technology and Sustainability—working with clients as notable as Alexander Wang, Selfridges, Balenciaga and more, she is redefining how garments are seen and even sold.

Cybertill

Cybertill is a cloud-based retail software provider, which incorporates ecommerce, stock control, CRM, Merchandising and Warehousing modules. Cybertill’s headquarters are in Knowsley, near Liverpool, in the UK. The company is privately owned and funded by Merseyside Investment Fund (MSIF). and employs over 100 people.

Virtual mirror

A virtual mirror or smart mirror is a device that displays a user's own image on a screen as if that screen were a mirror. Some versions feature augmented reality additions to the video display, or use an entirely virtual graphical avatar of the user.

Commercial augmented reality (CAR) describes augmented reality (AR) applications that support various B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) commercial activities, particularly for the retail industry. The use of CAR started in 2010 with virtual dressing rooms for E-commerce.

References

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