Fashion goes digital as Style-Eyes scoops Enterprise Ireland’s ‘One to Watch’ award

10 Jul 2013

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Pictured at Enterprise Ireland's Open Day for Researchers were, from left, model Deborah Somorin; Minister Seán Sherlock TD; Bobby Pringle, Style-Eyes; Tom Bannon, Enterprise Ireland; and model Bettina Wuerdinger. Credit: Gary O' Neill

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Fashionistas could be in for a digital treat to make their shopping lives easier and purse-friendly. A new Irish start-up called Style-Eyes has emerged from research carried out at Dublin City University (DCU). The venture has today scooped Enterprise Ireland’s 2013 ‘One to Watch’ award. Style-Eyes’ new image recognition technology aims to take the hassle out of shopping around for fashion and accessories.

Developed by researchers Dr Mark Hughes and Bobby Pringle from CLARITY: Centre for Sensor Web Technologies at DCU, Style-Eyes is a new digital platform that will use image recognition technology.

The idea of the application is to make shopping for fashion easier, faster, and cheaper all via the digital space. The technology is set to be ready for use in September.

Despite being an early-stage venture, the Style-Eyes smartphone, tablet and computer app is already starting to get some serious attention in the field of fashion.

Seán Sherlock TD, the Minister for Research and Innovation, presented the ‘One to Watch’ award to Style-Eyes’ Pringle and Hughes at Enterprise Ireland’s Open Day for Researchers in Dublin today.

What’s the score?

According to the two co-founders, Style-Eyes will enable people to take a picture of a fashion item – be it a dress, pair of hipsters or a manbag – and the platform will then search through a global retailer database to find an exact match.

In a matter of seconds, they say results will appear on your smartphone or computer screen to show the user the product they have photographed as well as a selection of other options that are visually relevant.

Style-Eyes

How the app will work. Image via Style-eyes.eu

QR code for fashion …

The technology, Pringle and Hughes said, will enable the fashion we see on the street, in a magazine or newspaper, on a website or even on Facebook or Twitter to effectively become a QR code. Such a code can then linking the user to a retailer’s website for the product.

So, how did Style-Eyes spawn from DCU’s research base?

DCU’s technology transfer team at Invent DCU facilitated the identification and protection of the intellectual property arising from Pringle’s and Hughes’ research on Style-Eyes.

At today’s event DCU president Brian McCraith congratulated the duo on winning the Enterprise Ireland award.

He said that DCU places a strong emphasis on innovation and on the translation of research into economic and societal benefit.

"Style-Eyes is an excellent example of a DCU spin-out company translating an innovative idea arising from research in our labs into a commercial entity which has the potential to create many skilled jobs," said McCraith.

Dedicated follower of fashion

Darren Kennedy, presenter of ITV’s This Morning ‘Style Squad’ was also at the Dublin awards today.

He said he is looking forward to Style-Eyes coming to fruition.

"Today with fashion, be it on the street, in a magazine, wherever, you just want to know where it’s from," said Kennedy.

"If I have a device that will allow me to quite simply take a picture of a garment and then it will automatically not only tell me where it’s from, how much it costs, but also gives me alternative options, then that’s going to make me buy."

From idea to commercialisation

Enterprise Ireland has been working with Pringle and Hughes to help them bring their invention from the research lab to market

Gearoid Mooney, director of ICT commercialisation at Enterprise Ireland, said the co-founders have used the funding provided by Enterprise Ireland to demonstrate their technology and partner with UK and Irish retailers to trial Style-Eyes’ image recognition engine with their customers.

"Enterprise Ireland is continuing to work with Mark and Bobby to stabilise and scale the technology for a global market," said Mooney.

Spinning ideas into jobs

Congratulating the Style-Eyes duo today, Sherlock said the quality of Ireland’s R&D is already a major part of the reason for the success of multinational and indigenous companies in the country, but he conceded that more needs to be done.

He said he is determined that the Government continues to place science, technology and innovation at the heart of enterprise and jobs policies and that the investment of Irish taxpayers’ money in the area of research is directed towards research that will one day benefit citizens in Ireland.

Fashionistas will get to check out Style Eyes when it’s released at the upcoming Dublin Fashion Week (5-8 September) in alliance with Samsung.

Carmel was a long-time reporter with Siliconrepublic.com

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