Business / Tech

Tokyo IT firm taps 3-D technology to offer perfect-fitting shoes

Kyodo

It’s every shoe lover’s dream: Footwear perfectly made for their feet.

Tokyo-based information technology firm Flickfit Inc. is developing just that — a service that virtually fits shoes to a person’s feet using 3-D scans.

The service, which would enable customers to search for a large number of footwear types in a short time, has the potential to revolutionize the world of online shoe shopping, says the company’s founder and chief executive, Hirohito Hirohashi.

To have their feet mapped from toe to heel, customers stand on a sensor-equipped measuring device developed by the firm.

The device then takes a 3-D model of their feet and juxtaposes this with various shoes, allowing customers to see how the footwear fits. Areas indicated by warm colors show a tight fit, while areas in cool colors indicate wriggle room. The differentiation allows customers to choose shoes based not just on how they feel but also on data, according to the company.

The 3-D data can be saved on Flickfit’s members-only website.

A department store in Tokyo plans to begin offering the service this summer with Flickfit hoping to grow the number of stores with the measuring device.

It hopes to introduce the service for online shoe shopping next year.

The company is also aiming within several years to develop a system that would allow people to measure their feet using a smartphone camera.

“Online shopping for shoes has lagged behind clothes” because it is difficult to select the size of a shoe, Hirohashi said.

“If this becomes reality, it has the potential to bring dramatic change to the (retail shoe) market,” he said.

Flickfit collaborated with Chiba University to develop the technology used to overlay the foot and shoe data.