Connect the Dots: Combine a Clothing Database with User Body Sensing

Create: 07/18/2016 - 13:00

If you marry True Fit’s clothing preference database with Sensoria’s textile-embedded body-sensing technology, clothing form and function will change forever.

When True Fit announced last week it got $25 million in Series B funding for its massive clothing preference database, it was interesting, but what would be really exciting is if someone helped True Fit marry its database to a database fed by technology like Sensoria’s wearable textiles that tracks how users actually move and their state of health. That would have a huge compounding effect.

True Fit got a $25 million investment on the heels of announcing that it was mapping fit, style and consumer preference data into the GenomeTM. Genome is a data platform developed in partnership with fashion retailers and brands to help, “unlock the digital apparel market, which will soon be $2 trillion globally,” according to the press release.

True Fit has correlated data on millions of styles from 10,000 brands with the fit and style preferences of more than 100 million consumers. Each piece of clothing and every shoe in the Genome is defined by 100 to 200 detailed attributes. This “Field of Dreams” database, according to True Fit, allows shoppers to buy with confidence (and inspiration), and has led to a 5 percent overall lift to retailers net revenue.


Figure 1. True Fit’s GenomeTM apparel and footwear discovery platform comprises literally millions of structured data points to help shoppers find the perfect fit and style from across 10,000 fashion brands.

The user numbers are likely what helped drive the investment in True Fit, led by Jump Capital, Signal Peak Ventures and Intel Capital. The registered user base is 20 million-plus, with 1.5 million being added every month. True Fit makes a good point about “profitable shoppers,” those who buy more and return less, thanks to the better up-front data before purchase.

Sensoria: User movement data overlay

What Sensoria brings to the table is truly wearable technology, embodied most starkly in its smart socks. These comprise three elements. The first is three textile sensors embedded in the sock base in the plantar region to detect pressure. These are the source of data on foot movement.

Secondly, conductive fibers relay the data from the sensors to a small, 1-oz, flexible anklet that also contains a 3-axis accelerometer to provide more contextual information. The third element is a Bluetooth wireless connection from the anklet to any nearby mobile or desktop device or system. 

Sensoria Smart Socks

Figure 2. Sensoria embeds sensors in clothing, in this case Smart Socks, to track user movement and gait for a better shoe fit and improved balance using orthotics. Advances in sensors, combined with the True Fit and Sensoria data-gathering capabilities has the potential to take form and function to the next level using the IoT.

The sock was initially designed for running shoes as so many injuries come from poorly fitting shoes that don’t match a runner’s gait. The socks cost $25 per pair and the anklet costs $139.

The technology soon became embedded in orthotics to track movement of the elderly to provide a more balanced spring in the orthotic to prevent falls, which are often catastrophic.

Since developing Smart Socks, Sensoria has gone on to develop heart-monitoring clothing and according to Dr. David Armstrong, head of Sensoria’s relatively new Scientific Advisory Board, “Textile sensing infused smart garments have the potential to be a game-changer in managing and measuring how we move through the world.”

That’s the fascinating opportunity. True Fit has collected millions of data points on shoes and garments, while Sensoria has enabled the acquisition of real-world data on user foot and body movements so that the perfect shoe can be custom designed to fit form – and function.

While Sensoria’s heart monitoring clothes currently attach a monitor via snap-on buttons, advances in sensor technology that we highlighted previously from Sensors Expo make it clear that many more sensor types can be incorporated into clothes. Stretchable sensors can detect heartbeats and breathing rate, moisture sensors can detect and analyze perspiration, while new chemical sensors can detect unusual or unpleasant odors.

While users may prefer to keep their levels of perspiration – and especially the specific content of that perspiration – private, True Fit’s Discovery Engine allows the creation of highly personalized collections of clothing for each user, which could be augmented with knowledge of personal movement and body behavior attributes. Shoe and sneaker choices can easily be improved, and the enhanced database could advise on materials to address perspiration or body-odor issues that have been identified by the user’s textile sensors.

These scenarios all assume that users will allow varying levels of personal data to be uploaded to a server’s database and used by True Fit or Sensoria (or an IoT solutions provider third party working with the two companies) to improve their clothing choices and experience – while also tracking their health in real time.

Security is always a concern, and rightfully so, but for many users, “security” is a relative term. Some hide everything, others share freely, especially the new millennial generation that is poised to take over the world by 2020. (More on this later.)

In the meantime, data on both clothing style preferences and clothing usage in the real world are about to come together to enhance the state of the art in clothing form and function. The question is: Who’s going to do it? 

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Patrick Mannion's picture
Patrick Mannion
Patrick Mannion is an independent writer and content consultant who has been working in, studying, and writing about engineering and technology for over 25 years.

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