Hi-tech blends with high fashion as AI takes the ramp in India

Source – moneycontrol.com

From opening a bank account or buying an insurance policy to fighting cancer or even buying a pair of shoes, we are increasingly being helped or influenced by artificial intelligence (AI). 

In Mumbai, designers Falguni and Shane Peacock used AI to create their latest collection. In Bengaluru, a startup is using AI to improve detection of breast cancer and also make treatment cheaper. And in the Tata Motors plant in Pune, a robot is skilled enough to do 30 different tasks — that’s artificial intelligence again.

The world around is changing much faster than we can imagine, and this six-part series goes behind the scenes to understand how.

 Part I dealt with AI’s impact on the auto sector, Part II on insurance segment, while Part III dealt with medical diagnostics.  Part IV  explored if robo-advisors were a threat to financial planners. 
Today, we look at how the world of fashion is using AI to design the next in-thing, and also offer customers the best fit.

Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world, Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe had once famously said.

But choosing the right shoe is easier said than done. Luckily, the stylists now can take the help of algorithms to help find that right fit.

Blurring the line between creativity and technology, artificial intelligence (AI) has made its way into the world of fashion. AI is fast becoming the future of getting dressed and how.

San Francisco-based fashion startup Stitch Fix puts their algorithm-assisted stylist to work the moment a customer query comes in. For each customer, the algorithm-assisted stylist analyzes fashion preferences based on a customer’s profile with the site including information on size, general preference on colour, price range, purchase and return history.

The technology also tracks the client’s activities on social media, including fashion pictures saved on Pinterest. The more data the algorithm collects about the customer, the better it knows about that person’s fashion tastes and the better it gets at recommending outfits.

But that’s in San Francisco. Is India replicating a model like that? Does India have a market for such technology? Well, it is beginning to.

Cognitive Couture — a collection by husband-wife designer duo Falguni and Shane Peacock — and IBM’s Watson is an example of Indian designers picking up the technology.

Watson is an IBM supercomputer that combines AI and sophisticated analytical software for optimal performance as a “question answering” machine.

“It is an incredibly exciting time to be a designer in India. We are thrilled to work with IBM because Watson’s capabilities lets us visually travel back and forth in time and space in seconds,” said Shane Peacock.

The whole collection in the series was made on the data collected using IBM Watson that mapped the future of Bollywood fashion by combining analyses of over 600,000 images of fashion runway shows and Indian couture.

“Bollywood has shaped fashion in India since decades, but now fashion shapes Bollywood which is why we tasked Watson to study the last half century of Bollywood as well as the international fashion scene and the result that Watson gave us was astonishing,” says Falguni.

“We saw trends from a very long period of time and some very obscure ones too. It doesn’t feel like technology. Feels like you are communicating with higher intelligence that gives you the answer you want,” added Falguni.

Creating fashion destinations

Explaining the technology, Sriram Raghavan, vice-president at IBM Research, India and Singapore, said, “Most fashion e-commerce portals are trying to be branded as not just an online warehouse, but more of a fashion destination. Luxury fashion houses want to create the similar in-store experience of visiting their high-end stores for their online channels. To realize this, we are building a suite of cognitive assets for the fashion retail industry around visual search, natural language search, recommendation, and trends.”

IBM’s suite of modern cognitive computing technologies leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, dialogue, computer vision and natural language understanding to empower online fashion retailers.

The technology was also used to come up with what was christened as the AI Sari. For an awards night that honoured women achievers, fashion designer Gaurav Gupta created a first-of-its-kind, artificial intelligence-inspired sari-gown.

“It has just opened the door for me, a door to another era. It doesn’t get better,” said Gupta.

Powered by IBM IoT (Internet of Things), the sari gown that was worn by winners at the event had LED lights that changed colours according to her personality. With the help of Watson’s Personality Insights application programme interface, the team conducted a detailed study on each awardee through his/her social media handles.

The team later mapped the data against seven traits – effectiveness in organizing thoughts, open-mindedness and originality, confidence and problem solving, action orientation, conscientiousness, openness to possibilities and alternatives and social energy. A colour was associated with each of these traits and the LED lights were programmed accordingly.

AI-based solutions

Bengaluru-based Fabulyst is also riding the AI bandwagon. This AI-based platform has developed its proprietary algorithms to function in the fashion scene. “Fabulyst is a deep learning and computer vision-based AI solution boutique for fashion e-tailers. We specialize in automated attribute enrichment overfashion images,” said founder Komal Prajapati. Fabulyst works with companies like Flipkart, Myntra and L’Brands. It provides information on design tags, for example, neckline, color, silhouette etc. and perceptual tags like occasions, trends, body type

Another Delhi-based startup Kakcho is a tech startup, with fashion at its core, while also putting AI to work when their clients ask them for help around what to wear for a particular occasion.

Tamil Nadu-based MAD Street Den provides an AI platform for the retail industry using image recognition and data science. They extract catalog data, analyze it with user behavior and helps the retailer’s marketing, product and cataloging teams get insights that improve customer experiences, drive conversions and reduce costs.

The future

Interestingly, 20 per cent executives who took part in the 2017 BoF-McKinsey Global Fashion Survey believe that the use of AI to reinvent design, merchandising and marketing will be an important trend.

Grapevine had it that Amazon is also looking at creating an AI designer that would develop algorithm that would design apparel based on analysis of images and popular styles.

Brands are using AI to change their perception. Nike had partnered with an advertising agency in 2017 to launch the ‘Nike On Demand’ campaign which leveraged IoT data to fuel an AI assistant service to encourage exercise adherence. The month and a half long campaign that aimed to use data, algorithms and machine learning to shift the consumer perception of Nike in Germany. They targeted athletes and wanted to shift their image of a cool brand to that of a performance partner.

According to experts, AI can deliver data from a huge archive at not just record speed but also reduced cost. AI innovations could not just accumulate data but also accelerate the creative process and help in every aspect of manufacturing and distribution — starting from capacity planning to automated production and delivery.

So may be it’s just like Falguni Peacock said, ”This is not just the future of fashion. This is the future.”

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