Will avatars be the models of the future?

Step aside, Gisele. You too, Miranda, Kate, and Adriana. The huge salaries, diva-like demands and actual human bodies of supermodels could soon be a thing of the past. That’s what two scientists from Manchester Metropolitan University reckon, anyway.

Andrew Brownridge and Peter Twigg have published a study in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education which suggests that avatars could be the future of the fashion industry.

Their research was initially aimed at creating tools for ballet dancers, so that performers could analyse their routines and receive coaching to improve. But they think that the technique they’ve developed could have lots of other applications, including fashion.

After trying different ways of bringing avatars to life, including Planet of the Apes-style motion capture suits and computer programs based on bone structure, they had success with an infrared 3D body scanner. While these are already in use by designers (and in some fancypants changing rooms) in order to get the fit of clothing just right, this is the first time they’ve been used to create a virtual model. But with the addition of animation software, the researchers think they could be on to something, and they’re now working on making their avatars realistic enough to impress the frow at New York Fashion Week.

It might sound like science fiction, but brands like Burberry and Stefan Eckert are already using holographic versions of their model faves, so if the animation’s up to scratch, this could take off. Just maybe… don’t make an avatar version of online writers, will you, guys?

Image via Republic of Korea’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley

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