At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, one of the most innovative apps we saw allows a user to measure almost anything by using a smartphone, but without needing the smartphone camera. The method used by the SizeUp app has two advantages over measurement apps that do rely on the camera. The first is accuracy. The second is privacy, particularly important if you are measuring yourself for clothing. We had a chance to sit down with Ronen Luzon, the founder and CEO of MySize, the maker of the SizeUp app.
Tech50+: How do you see folks over 50 making use of the SizeUp app?
Ronen Luzon: One of the major focus verticals for MySize is the DIY market. It makes your phone a ruler which is aimed directly at the DIY market. Some of the retailers told us that one of the things that it’s really missing in the merchandise is that most of the time the consumer must have a ruler at home in order to measure the area of the wall or the area of the window for a curtain or the area of the floor in order to match a table. So you must have a ruler and surprisingly, most of the time they don’t. Usually, the DIY customers are not in their 20s or teenagers – it’s usually 40+, 50+, 60+, even more. This technology and this tool that we have developed is especially for the DIY market and I think the 50+ can gain a lot of benefits from using it. Those over 50 are often going after more expensive items and they are willing to put in the time to make sure it fits. I think the ruler that we have embedded into the technology and using the DIY the vertical market can gain a great benefit out of it. Now, this is only one vertical. There are other verticals where this could be of great benefit. When it comes to buying clothes online, generally an older audience is looking at luxury items such as leather jackets and high-end clothes that are beyond the budgets of younger buyers.
Tech50+: How did you come up with the idea for MySize?
Ronen Luzon: The original idea for the product, which I developed in 2013, was to solve a major issue in online clothes buying. It is a hassle because not every retailer has the same sizes and even within the same retailer you can find two different sizes in two different items that differ from one another. I realized that if we really have to buy clothes online there must be a solution for it. I figured out that using the mobile phone sensors and only the embedded sensors inside the mobile phone without using the camera or any other external sensor and an algorithm that we’ve developed combining both we can measure the distance the phone is travelling from one place to another. Just moving it across the air, putting it one place and moving it to the other side you can measure the distance it travels. So for example if you want to measure the length of your arm just bring the phone to your shoulder, drag it across your arm or move it across over the air and you can know the distance that the phone is travelling and you can actually get a profile of the human body, of your chest, of your waist, of your hips only using the mobile phone. With our MySizeID, a shopper can take and save all their measurements, making it easier to make sure that whatever they buy will fit right the first time. We’ve developed a unique technology that is patent protected that uses the mobile phone sensors and an algorithm that sits in the cloud.
Tech50+: Where else are you taking the app?
Ronen Luzon: We realized that our technology can be used in many other vertical markets. We already talked about the DIY space where you can use it to measure for carpet, walls, or furniture. Another vertical, for example, are courier services. If you want to ship a package from New York to Boston and you want to know how much will it cost you, you can measure the volume of the package just by moving the phone across the package and then get a quote of how much that will cost to ship. The verticals are endless and each is a huge market, where we see huge benefits and real problems. For online merchants, it’s the issue of returns. Right now some of these retailers are suffering about a 30% return rate. So almost one in three items is being sent back. That means the merchant has to pay for the item return, for restocking, and for sending a replacement item. All for no charge but substantial expense. In the case of some of these items, whether it be clothing or furniture, precise measurement can substantially reduce the number of returns. One of the retailers in the DIY space conducted a survey and found that only 8% of consumers has a ruler in the house. That means a lot of guesswork that we can solve.
Tech 50+: How are you distributing your app?
Ronen Luzon: At the moment it’s available for consumers for on iOS and they can download it for free, no ads, no strings attached. They can use it for almost anything that needs a ruler. The Android version will be available no later than the second quarter. And while we are making SizeUp available to the consumer, we see the business as developing white labels for the retailers so we are behind the scenes. Our approach is developing the application for the businesses but always thinking of the consumer. At the end of the day, we always look at how the consumer is going to use the product. Our name would not be up at the front. So as an example, a company like Home Depot might have this as a feature in their mobile app so that when folks go shopping online they could put the measurements right into their search.
Tech 50+: There are other measurement apps on the market but they pretty much all use the camera, don’t they?
Ronen Luzon: They all use the camera, yes. The camera has some limits to it because the camera doesn’t understand depth so if you take an item and you put it close to the camera and you put it far away from the camera the camera thinks it’s two different sizes and it’s two different items because it cannot calculate the depth. So you always need to calculate to be some sort of a dimension or some sort of a reference in order to measure things using the camera. This is the main obstacle of the camera. If you’re looking at the apparel world there is a privacy issue as well. You don’t want a picture of yourself or picture of your kids no clothes at all or very minimal clothes. The camera is an obstacle in everything to do with measurement.
Tech 50+: So the big difference is that with your algorithm you’re measuring not only the linear distance but the surface distance including the ups and downs.
Ronen Luzon: Absolutely.
Tech 50+: How much more accurate is SizeUp is compared to some of the other measurement apps?
Ronen Luzon: Our accuracy is about 2 centimeters up to a range of 20 meters or about ¾ of an inch over a distance of about sixty feet.
Tech 50+: I can certainly see a practical use here for folks who need to send boxes, whether it’s a merchant or just someone who is selling their stuff on eBay.
Ronen Luzon: Absolutely. That’s one of the things that eBay likes to do that you as the merchant will be able to register your item in 60 seconds and everything will be included in this 60 seconds even the dimension of the package so you could have a quote of how much it will cost to send it to Boston or to Hong Kong. And that’s true for individuals, whether it’s someone shipping through eBay or just sending something through the mail. We can take a real practical example – how about my mother? She lives in Florida and she wants to send something to me in Israel. How is she going to do that and know that she’s doing everything right the first time? She needs the application.
Tech 50+: How do you think this might change online shopping?
Ronen Luzon: I think that the idea is to make online or in person shopping way easier than it’s ever been. Taking out the guesswork that we’ve all struggled with along the way. You know for people who are 50 or older, whether you have money or not, we always like to get it right the first time and we almost never do because you just don’t know when you’re trying to pick out whatever it is, whether you’re trying to figure out how much paint to redo a room or clothes or what have you. I think the main point of this is now we don’t have to guess. We know that we got it right the first time and we can do it every single time and it’s because of something simple that has made this activity that much simpler. And we get to save money in the process so if we have a budget we’re going to stay within the budget.
Here’s a video that describes how to use the SizeUp app: