Way back in 2010, Warby Parker’s Home Try-On program changed the way people buy glasses.
Its secret? Creating a casual business transaction that felt more like commitment-free dating: Customers could select multiple new frames online and test them out for five days in person.
Nearly a decade and hundreds of millions in revenue later, the company last week announced a more high-tech and expedited version of the same process. The tool allows customers to try on frames in its app using augmented reality, a technology that superimposes computer-generated images onto real-world imagery. For example: your face on camera with various pairs of virtual Warby Parker glasses.
The app uses the phone’s camera and Apple’s Face ID, which uses 30,000 invisible dots and an infrared image to create a precise copy of a customer’s face using measurements from a proprietary method that the company calls “unique placement.” A photo-sharing option allows customers to enlist feedback from friends and family.
Warby Parker is calling the new tool Virtual Try-On.
“Shopping for glasses is challenging for most people,” Warby Parker co-founder and co-Chief Executive Dave Gilboa said in a statement. “It’s one of the only products you wear on your face, and slight differences in sizing or shape can have a dramatic effect on whether a frame fits well or not.”
The company said the tool is a game-changer, especially for customers who do not live close to a Warby Parker store.
In a video posted on Warby Parker’s Twitter feed, a customer is seen selecting a frame and then swiping through variations of that frame using the company’s app.
With each swipe, a new virtual pair of glasses is immediately superimposed on the customer’s face, which is being filmed in real time using her phone’s camera. When the customer turns her head, the virtual glasses stay on her face, shifting with the movements of her body.
Warby Parker isn’t the first company to help customers shop using augmented reality. In 2017, the startup Avametric unveiled an augmented shopping app that lets customers try on clothes virtually using an avatar with customizable body types. Ikea uses AR to allow customers to place pieces of furniture in their homes.