The risk of buying clothes online is well-known to shoppers these days, but science may help remove that fear.

Nearly everyone has a story of buying an item, and the ensuing disappointment when it does not fit or does not make the consumer look the way they had assumed.

In an attempt to gain some ground for shoppers, a team of software engineers, designers and scientists at CSIRO have filed a series of patents related to facial recognition and 3-D sensing technology to launch its new 'Smart Vision' technology.

CSIRO have created a ‘virtual change room’, using technology which interprets 2-D pixels from an image of a human face such as the eye or tip of the nose and turns them into a real-time 3D face-sensing device.

“Our computer modelling experts have developed a more accurate and reliable way to create a 3D scan of a person’s face using newly developed algorithms that can turn 2D images from a mobile camera into a 3D model of the face. The technology calculates size so unlike other virtual try-on technologies, customers can try on and view products from any angle — perfectly scaled to their face,” said Simon Lucey, Group Research Leader for CSIRO’s Digital Productivity and Services Flagship.

The facial mapping software produces a true-to-life 180 degree view of the user's face, showing how pairs of glasses could fit in 3D. It also lets shoppers compare side-by-side images of each style. Because the technology places a 3D model of the glasses over a 3D rendering of the user's face, shoppers can even reposition the glasses, tapping the screen to ‘slide’ frames up and down the bridge of their nose just as they might in real life.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the Smart Vision research is an example of how retailers need to take action to transform for the digital age by embracing new technologies.

“Retailers need to move to hybrid business models that combine the strengths of today’s online and bricks-and-mortar strategies,” said ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman.

“With predictions that by 2025, a leading retailer will make A$106 billion more in sales and sell 40 per cent of its goods online, it is becoming increasingly evident that success will be driven by how effectively retailers can harness the power of new technologies to deliver unique value to customers with the speed, efficiency and ubiquity they demand.”

The software has been exclusively licensed to an eyewear retailer.

More information is available on the Smart Vision research page.