June 26, 2007 Swords into plowshares in the 21st century - 3D camera technology originally designed to detect unexploded bombs has been adapted to accurately measure your shoe size. QinetiQ's FootSee 3D foot gauges can measure the length, breadth, height and shape of your feet in an instant, and the data can be used to decide which shoes provide a perfect fit. The FootSee devices are now beginning to roll out across the USA after an initial purchase by Stride Rite, and collected data will be fed back to footwear manufacturers to help them develop better-fitting shoes.
Stride Rite, the leading US children's footwear retailer and manufacturer, has purchased 30 QinetiQ FootSee 3D foot gauges, a system designed to produce highly accurate foot measurements. Foot gauges have been successfully trialled in three Stride Rite stores in the Boston area since November last year. Stride Rite has been making shoes in the US for over 85 years and operates a nationwide chain of nearly 450 stores. Discussions are continuing about the possible installation of FootSee units in other stores in the chain.
FootSee is already in widespread use in the UK, with hundreds of foot gauges installed with Clark's Shoes, a leading British footwear retailer. The device uses six 3D camera systems and measures customers' feet quickly and accurately, providing highly detailed length, girth and shape data and helping to ensure the best fit possible. The recorded 3D data can also enable trend analysis, assisting future footwear design and improving stock control and the efficiency of in-store service. Stride Rite and other US footwear retailers currently use manual methods to measure customers' feet.
Jay Nannicelli, Senior Vice President of Retail Operations at Stride Rite, said: "The benefits of this cutting edge and innovative technology became apparent during recent trials and we are keen to explore the possibility of extending the use of FootSee beyond the initial 30 stores."
The foot gauge is based on innovative 3D optical ranging technology developed and patented by QinetiQ. The origins of the technology can be traced back to work done for the UK Ministry of Defence on the detection of unexploded ordnance. The foot gauge captures data very rapidly and both feet can be scanned simultaneously, allowing store staff to decide quickly on best fit.
QinetiQ is currently discussing further evaluation of the foot gauge with a number of other international footwear retailers and manufacturers. Opportunities to apply the underpinning 3D measuring technology for the clothing retail market are also being actively explored.