Dressing you with Style Eyes
A cure for hopeless fashionistas has arrived, writes Katherine Donnelly
Finding that dress or bag spotted on the street or in a magazine – or something similar or more affordable – can be a difficult task and, at best, requires a lot of foot-slogging.
Fashionista Sanita Svelpe knows all about it and regularly logged on to the internet in search of the latest must-have.
That was until her boyfriend, Dubliner Dr Mark Hughes, thought, "there must be an easier way. Savita's fashion crazy; she saw a coat on the street and looked for it night after night on the internet."
Lucky for Sanita, a Latvian native who has been living in Ireland for eight years, Mark is a computer scientist and post-doctoral researcher at the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Clarity Centre for Sensor Technologies at Dublin City University (DCU).
It was about a year ago that Mark (30), from Beaumont, watched as Sanita hunted for that yellow coat.
She eventually found it (it was a Karen Millen).
While Sanita enjoyed the coat, Mark, an expert in image technology, got thinking and got working in the lab – and the result is the Style Eyes app.
The app allows the user to take a picture of a fashion item, such as a dress or a handbag – even something that appears on a website, Facebook or Twitter, and then searches through a retailer database to find an exact match or something similar. The results appear on screen in a matter of seconds, complete with comparison prices.
It caused such a buzz that Mark and his two colleagues, also DCU graduates – Oisin MacFhearai, who recently completed his PhD thesis in artificial intelligence, and Bobby Pringle, who has a masters in business – set up a campus company.
DCU's technology transfer team at Invent DCU facilitated the identification and protection of the intellectual property arising from Style Eyes research.
Luckily for every other fashion- savvy woman who wants to find it, and find it fast, Mark and his colleague are preparing for a major launch in London before the end of this month.
Retailers are rushing to link in to Style Eyes, and, so far, Mark has signed up more than 600 UK high street names, more than 200 in the US and some in Japan.
The number of sign-ups is growing weekly.
Retailers make their databases available to Style Eyes, and the more, the merrier for the fashion savvy.
Earnings for the company is based on a pay-per-click system.