The text below is an extract from the recent report by EDM Publications

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Strong interest for Else Corp’s virtual reality and personalization system

logo_shoeintelligenceA start-up company, Else Corp, launched an experimental online platform for mass customization of shoes at theMicam show in Milan last month. It drew a lot of interest at the show for a number of reasons including a proposal to act as an open cloud-based platform that can be used by any brands and manufacturers to help customers find the best fitting and individually styled shoes through a special, standardized algorithm.

Under Else Corp’s project, the customer would walk into a shoe store for a virtual 3D shopping experience, getting first his or her feet scanned to generate a “virtual last” that can be subsequently used for a variety of purposes. Among other things, it can matched on Else’s cloud-based online platform with those of the shoes in the participating suppliers’ catalogs to find a selection of best-fitting models.

The system presented by Else Corp at theMicam also gives the final customer the option to customize the shoe of his or her choice after selecting a specific model or style. Simulating the changes in a virtual, augmented or mixed reality environments, the customer can pick specific colors, materials and decorative elements for different components of the shoe, using a specially developed 3D Product Configurator. The customer can also share his or her choices with other people on a social network before placing the final order.

Else Corp is also working on a Real Time Fashion System (RTFS) framework that would integrate 3D and 2D computer-aided design, cloud computing and artificial intelligence to provide shoe brands with real-time product demand predictability and planning by analyzing the data generated from the customers’ virtual shopping and virtual fitting experience.

For the brands, the benefits to be derived from Else’s project include accelerated time to market, improved market position and greater customer engagement and loyalty. Retails can obtain higher sales per square meter and minimize inventories while offering premium in-store services such as 3D foot scanning and 3D product personalization.

After an initial €1 million round of financing, Else’s project has been developed and tested for 12 months with the help of a number of Italian shoe companies with different profiles and operating in different market niches. It is now being proposed to other brands, retailers and designers ahead of another, bigger investment round to move into the commercial phase.

Else Corp, where E.L.S.E. stands for Exclusive Luxury Shopping Experience, has worked on this project with numerous partners including Shoemaster, which is supplying its 3D CAD/CAM programs, and its parent company, the Atom Group. The latter is considering expanding the collaboration to the actual manufacture of customized shoes on demand at its own research lab, the- Atom Lab.

This is part of a broader project that may see shoe companies using the Atom Lab not just as a supplier of equipment but as a service company using its most advanced equipment to produce small runs of special shoes, which is something being done in the automotive and aerospace industries.

Run by Andrey Golub, one of its co-founders, Else Corp has also worked on its project with other partners including a biomechanics institute in Valencia and the Techedge Group, a multinational company that works with Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and Amazon. It has worked with Predit, a platform that integrates product development processes across the value chain to help determine the most successful new collections.

Other partners are Design Italian Shoes (DIS) and the VAR Group. DIS is a company in the March region that uses an innovative 3D configurator that allows customers to choose shoe models, personalize them and get them custom-made in Italy in just ten days. VAR is an Italian provider of IT services and solutions to small and medium enterprises.

Else Corp’s team of 12 designers and developers has been selected to participate in the IBM Watson AI XPrize, an international competition for artificial intelligence and cognitive computing systems.