U.S. News

Custom Tailoring Via Radio Waves

Linda R. Sittenfeld, Senior Producer

Imagine a virtual fitting room -- a booth where a wand rotates around your body as radio waves take precise measurements. You stay fully clothed, but your next pair of pants will fit absolutely perfectly.

Well, stop imagining. Rob Weber, president of Intellifit, has made it a reality.

What is Intellifit?
Intellifit offers the customer the ability to buy clothes that fit, or to have custom clothes made, in a high traffic location using a high tech scanner. The scanners exist. We've been selling them for about three years to retailers who use them to size people or to do studies.

Can shoppers get themselves scanned right now?
Yes. Right now we have scanners in 30 booths around the world. You step into the booth, and the scanner takes your measurements. Right now the primary use is it makes recommendations for sizes and clothes off the rack.

For example, you can go into a Levi's booth powered by Intellifit in several places, including China. We also have Charming Shoppes, which uses the booth to give their customers the measurements, but also uses it to adjust their sizes to their clientele.

What's ahead?
In 2008 we'll launch custom apparel centers. These will be booths in high traffic locations like malls that will work either with an exisiting brand to make custom clothes, or a high class tailoring shop.

Is this mainly a business innovation, or is the scanner itself an innovation?
The scanner itself is a significant development. It's radio-wave based, not x-ray based. It's the same concept used in airports, licensed from a government lab. So far we've measured 230,000 people using this scanner. People line up to do it ! We've also been the recipient of numerous awards.

Any privacy concerns?
If you don't want to do it, don't step into the booth!

China, the target market —
We're doing a promotion in China right now, with Levi's, with booths scanning 600 people a day in a mall. Levi's sales quadruple when they put a scanner in the mall. And they are also getting a better sense of the measurements of the Chinese customer.

On sizing in general —
Last time sizing was done was 50 yrs ago. People look very different now. It's a global phenomenon. Factors include ethnicity and obesity. As the American diet making its way around the world, bodies change. 40% of people are outside the normal average, which means normal average means nothing.

How's business?
We are at a break even level with regard to profitability. We're venture capital backed, with under 10 employees. We've sold 30+ systems, so we're still very small. But we are all over the world - Japan, China, Malaysia, Scotland, UK, US, Italy.