Millimeter wave estimation of body geometry for accurate online apparel shopping

Unmet Need

Consumers in United States spend over $50 billion in online apparel retail sales every year. The ease of having a multitude of styles and designs by different labels makes online shopping appealing and yet frustrating. This shopping experience falls short of visualizing the fit and appearance. Furthermore, returns are extremely damaging to the profit margins of an item owing to factors such as damages, devaluation with time and incremental supply chain costs. The average percentage of orders that get returned are ~30%. While these returns are due to a variety of reasons, a large majority of these could be attributed to fit issues. To address this problem already, a lot of apparel stores are coming up with better ways of suggesting true-to-the-user sizes based on some basic metrics for the users. There are still a lot of assumptions made in assessing this fit, and it indicates more of an average fit for a given size. Thus, having easy access to a cost-effective technology that can very accurately assess the garment fit on individual body shapes and sizes will not just improve the profit margins of the stores, but will also improve customer satisfaction and thus customer retention. Additionally, if such a technology could work in an automated fashion, without a human operator, it can further increase the comfort of the consumers and alleviate privacy concerns they might have too.


Duke inventors haver reported a low-cost whole-body 3D scanner technology for creating an accurate model of one’s body, which can then be used with clothing data to assess the fit and appearance customized to the user’s body geometry. This technology can be leased by shopping malls or individual stores for access to the usual customer at a premium or built into the price. Another stream of revenue for the stores or the technology could also be a fraction of the retail sales, and/or providing individuals with their accurate measurements and 3D scan data for a price, should they wish to use it for online shopping later. These factors make the development of the technology for online apparel shopping very promising. Additionally, the opportunity of a fully automated, no-operator-needed system enhances the comfort level of the customers. Privacy concerns are also alleviated with the option of being able to locally run clothing fit and appearance simulations.

Other Applications

In addition to online retail, this technology could also be utilized in the fitness industry by presenting a comprehensive way to visualize and track fitness progress with geometrical dimensions and body composition. Additionally, a 3D mapping of body or body parts could assist in tracking patient recovery noninvasively in the medical industry.


  • This technology offers 3D body scan collected as subject walks through rather than standing still
  • Does not require subject to wear form fitting clothing for accurate body measurements
  • Works without a human operator unlike similar technology on the market, thus alleviating privacy concerns