One of the biggest drawbacks to shopping for clothes online is the inability to try on the items prior to purchase. British researchers however have developed a web-based body scanning device that they hope will lower amount of clothes people return due to them not fitting.

The body scanner was developed by the London College of Fashion, video imaging researchers at the University of Surrey, and the company Bodymetrics. Similar virtual measuring tapes, developed by Bodymetrics that utilize the motion sensors of Microsoft's Kinect, can be found in Bloomingdale's in the United States, Selfridges and New Look in Britain, and Karstadt in Germany.

Professor Adrian Hilton from the University of Surrey discussed the virtual measuring tape project with the Daily Mail:

"It's unrealistic to expect online clothes shoppers to have the time or inclination to take a series of highly accurate body measurements of themselves. The new system makes it all very easy."

30 to 60 percent of online purchases are returned according to Philip Delamore from the London College of Fashion. This new project aims to lower those statistics.

The software will work with any webcam or smartphone. The user just needs to upload a full-length photo and his or her height to receive accurate measurements. The body scanning software is an enhancement of the technology developed by the University of Surrey, which is used to create animated characters in games like the Sims.

If you like to avoid checkout lines and fitting rooms while shopping you may be in luck. Unfortunately, the technology is two years from being released. 

[via Reuters]