3D virtual dressing room coming to eBay

The days of grabbing a last minute bargain dress on eBay for it only to be delivered days later and not fit may be over following the website’s latest purchase.

The auction giant has puts its hand in its pockets and purchased computer graphics company PhiSix who create 3D models of clothing from photos, pattern files and other sources.

Once the software is introduced to eBay it will allow customers to see what their potential purchases will look like on their bodies before they have even placed a bid on the item.

The financial details of the deal unfortunately haven’t been disclosed but eBay’s vice president of innovation and new ventures, Steve Yankovich, praised the work that PhiSix have been doing and said that it will be of a huge benefit to eBay’s customers.

He said: “PhiSix’s technology enables consumers to understand the fit and movement of clothes in an online shopping environment.

“Consumers can experience the merchandise in a more efficient and impactful way, which we believe will drive sales for retailers and create a delightful experience for shoppers.”

PhiSix claims its technology can help to solve one of the most common problems that online shoppers face – the fit and look of products. It says that the virtual fitting room it provides allows shoppers to determine the fit with physically accurate simulations of the clothes they want to purchase.

As well as showing customers what clothes will look like the technology is also able to recommend a size for the user’s body based on the basic measurement inputs – which the customer will provide. The technology also allows shoppers to use the virtual fitting room in a variety of scenarios, such as walking down the street, rather than just being in a dressing room.

The fashion technology company is relatively young when compared to its new owners. PhiSix was founded in 2012 by Jonathan Su, a former Intel research scientist who completed a PhD in computer science at Stanford University, US.

This technology could help to enhance the shopping experience for eBay’s customers and the company is certainly hoping it will. However there will undoubtedly be a lot of teething problems and the results of the clothing which is shown on the customers will most likely depend on the level of information provided by the seller.

Nonetheless PhiSix’s founder Su is looking forward to working with his new bosses. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to bring PhiSix’s expertise to one of the world’s leading commerce platforms,” he said.

“We believe today’s acquisition will help us better scale our expertise and meet the needs of digitally-minded shoppers and create new customer experiences for the eBay Inc. portfolio.”

Image courtesy of eBay.

3D Printed Human Tissue Just Got Closer to Reality

Scientists have moved a step closer to creating fully-functioning replacement tissue at the push of a button with the development of a remarkable new bioprinting method.

Developed at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, the bioprinting method involves the creation of 3D tissue constructs made up of different interconnected cell types and blood vessels. This represents a major milestone in the creation of artificial tissue.

This is the first time that tissue constructs of this complexity have been produced. Previous attempts to create lab-grown tissue have been limited to very thin slices because scientists have been unable to develop a system to supply the interior cells with oxygen and nutrients or remove carbon dioxide.

The team behind the project, lead by core faculty member Dr Jennifer Lewis, created a custom 3D printer that can print multiple materials together with a very high degree of accuracy. They also created “bio-inks”, which contain key ingredients found in living tissues, and printed these to create the tissue construct.

Although the results are still in their early stages – the team still have work to do to turn the printed blood vessel lining cells into fully-working blood cells – the potential for this technology is significant.

Bioprinting: Building in Blood Vessels from Wyss Institute on Vimeo.

Writing in a release the Wyss Institute website, the Institute said that the development “represents an early but important step toward building fully functional replacements for injured or diseased tissue that can be designed from CAT scan data using computer-aided design (CAD), printed in 3D at the push of a button and used by surgeons to repair or replace damaged tissue.”

Dr Lewis agreed, saying: “This is the foundational step toward creating 3D living tissue.”

In the shorter term, the technology has the potential to be used to assess the safety of medicines, which is what Dr Lewis and her team are now focusing on. “That’s where the immediate potential for impact is,” she explained.

Bioprinting: Building with Bio-Inks from Wyss Institute on Vimeo.

Once the 3D tissue is developed sufficiently it could be used in drug development to establish possible side effects and measure the effectiveness of drug candidates. This could prove revolutionary for the pharmaceutical industry, and is something that many people have seen as a holy grail for drug development – it could reduce the time it takes to bring medicines to market and reduce or even remove the reliance on animal testing.

It could prove invaluable for scientist studying living tissue and how it heals, grows and forms tumours. “Tissue engineers have been waiting for a method like this,” said Wyss Institute founding director Dr Don Ingber.

The Wyss Institute is known for its innovations in biomimetics – the practice of taking inspiration from nature for scientific design – and has previously produced artificial jellyfish, the lung-on-a-chip and swarms of robotic insects.

Image courtesy of the Wyss Institute.