This blog is part of the IEEE IoT Brain Trust series. This collection of blogs will explore IoT in the industry. 

As you read this blog, an effort is underway by the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) and its Industry Connections program to explore and develop standards across four 3D body processing technology domains where we expect to see a wide range of benefits.

One driver of this effort is a push by industry players to unlock market value through the interaction and scaling of 3D body processing technologies. Our initial focus is on accelerating immersive shopping experiences for consumers to scan, match and fit clothing or wearables.

Retailers and brands will benefit too. For example, we foresee cost savings by reducing returns due to ordering the wrong size in virtual shopping or the ability to differentiate a brand by providing unique, interactive visualization for either virtual or brick-and-mortar shopping. The standards development process serves as an ideal platform for bringing ecosystem players together to leverage their collective intelligence and resources.

A unified ecosystem of this nature will also address adjacent domains such as the consumer-centric Internet of Things (IoT). For example, as homes, offices and vehicles become smarter through IoT-based networks, 3D body processing technology standards are likely to address where and how these systems sense and engage people. Value creation is likely to range from optimization and efficiencies across the supply chain to consumer and industrial use of augmented and virtual reality.

Four technology domains, one ecosystem

To get our arms around these ideas, let’s talk specifics.

The term for one technology domain – “of-the-body” – refers to technologies used for 3D body sensing, scanning, modeling, imaging, representation and storage. We anticipate that 3D scanners will become pervasive across mobile devices so that consumers can scan themselves for fit and match of clothing, whether in a virtual or in-store setting.

“On-the-body” refers to technologies that are used to directly design clothing or wearables or for technologies used to translate physical models or prototypes of clothing into digitized formats. To date, body scanning has typically focused on garments like pants and shirts, but we think the future will include wearables on the wrist, hand or feet. These devices might be akin to currently available watches or fitness bands where they may sense, record and communicate the health and movements of your body for use in eHealth applications or augmented reality.

We’re using the term “fusion” for a domain of technologies that combines or bridges “of” and “on” the body technologies. Fusion technologies will create ways to map a specific person’s “of the body” sensing and scanning information to digitized “on the body” clothing to determine a best fit or match, whether that’s in a virtual or in-store shopping environment or perhaps for specialized on-body gear in an industrial setting.

The fourth, so-called “consumption” domain refers to technologies that translate the output of “fusion” for consumer or industrial understanding and interaction. Outputs can range from 2D or 3D visual representations such as augmented/virtual reality or integration to applications such as gaming and social media. For example, a consumer could tap social media to, say, consult a spouse on the suitability of a particular outfit. In gaming and/or augmented reality, integrated applications could enable the user-friendly creation of highly accurate avatars of our real-life bodies.

As one might imagine, there are a variety of use cases that can and will be considered as focus areas for base-lining where and how these four underlying technology domains can be harnessed to deliver high-quality immersive shopping experiences.

The role of standards

To help reduce the technology and market fragmentation that historically impedes evolution of market growth, players across these four technology domains seek to harness a collaborative platform upon which to unify their efforts. The IEEE-SA and its Industry Connections program provide an ideal means for technology players to collaborate through the support of standards infrastructure and processes.

The IEEE-SA’s usefulness in this regard is enhanced by the fact that it already works in adjacent technology areas such as scanning, computing, communication protocols, data storage, security, privacy, augmented reality and IoT. The IEEE-SA’s open, transparent standards development process means that any qualified individual or organization can participate, leading to industry consensus and interoperable global standards.

Currently, we see the potential for standards across seven areas for each of the four technology domains. These seven areas include: 1) terminology (establishing a common language across domains); 2) format types and classifications (governing how scanning information is structured and stored); 3) communication and sharing protocols; 4) security; 5) privacy; 6) “quality” specifications and metrics (e.g., what does “best fit” mean and how do we measure it?) and 7) test methods (how are qualitative measures assessed for uniformity of result?).

Next steps

As we proceed this year, we will integrate cutting-edge research and innovation across the various domains in order to help us best envision the consumers of the future and their respective needs and wants. This will be coupled with scoping out of options and gaining agreement on a portfolio of prioritized projects where we expect a few outputs to be ready by end of 2017 and the rest in successive years.

The relevance of this initiative should be clear to readers of Electronic Component News: if you are working in any of these four domains, by getting involved, you can gain a stronger understanding of the direction that this rapidly evolving ecosystem will take and where your own work may fit in and benefit. Click on the press release announcing this initiative for more details, including the names of the various industry players who’ve already signed on so far. We hope you will join us.