A new app called Style-eyes uses image-recognition technology to allow smartphone owners to take a picture of a dress, top or shoes they covet and in seconds after a search across 1,300 brands be directed to where they can buy the item.
Schoolmates Mark Hughes, Bobby Pringle and Oisin MacFhearaí devised the app, which works across iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices.
The idea came about when Hughes’ girlfriend fell in love with a coat she saw a stranger wear on the street and then endure weeks of searching for it in shops and online.
Soon he and CTO MacFhearaí were spending hours trying to perfect the process of teaching a computer to be able to tell the difference between a dress and a building, using a process called machine learning.
“Of course, humans find that easy, but believe me, it’s an incredibly difficult thing for a computer to do,” said MacFhearaí, who recently completed his PhD in the area.
“It took a long, long time, but after several tweaks and revisions, our software can now analyse any image and identify characteristics like the shape, size, pattern or design of any piece of clothing.”
The company has convinced leading brands Debenhams, House of Fraser, Coast and Miss Selfridges and more than 350 UK and US high-street retailers to come on board.
“Seventy-nine per cent of people use their mobile phones to help them shop, but it can be a really laborious process if they’re looking for something specific,” explained Pringle.
“What’s unique about our app is that it allows people to find what they’re looking for immediately, and the retailers loved that.”
The app launches this week in association with Samsung to coincide with Dublin Fashion Week.