Google Is Weaving Generative AI Into Online Shopping Features

31 July 2023

Google has introduced a new feature that utilizes AI to provide shoppers a virtual try-on experience, allowing them to visualize how clothing items would look on various models. The system enables users to select the “Try On” badge on Search and choose a model that closely matches their body type—addressing the common challenge faced by online shoppers who cannot physically try on garments and must rely on photos of models, which may not accurately represent their own body shape, skin tone, or hair color.

The recent development by Google enables online shoppers to make more informed purchasing decisions. The virtual try-on feature employs TryOnDiffusion, a generative AI system trained by Google researchers to analyze clothing images and predict how they appear on various models, spanning from XXS to 4XL sizes and showcasing multiple poses.

While Google is not the first company to offer virtual try-on capabilities, its approach distinguishes it from competitors like Walmart. Walmart’s virtual try-on feature only allows users to view clothes on models with similar height and size or photos of themselves. However, Google’s technology surpasses this by offering a broader range of poses and a more comprehensive selection of models. 

The virtual try-on feature is made possible through a diffusion-based AI model developed internally by Google. This model gradually refines noisy images by subtracting noise and moving closer to a target image. By training the model using pairs of images featuring individuals wearing garments in different poses, Google ensures that the virtual try-on experience produces realistic results, considering factors such as fabric stretch and wrinkles.

Overall, Google’s virtual try-on feature, powered by AI, empowers online shoppers to make more informed decisions by visualizing clothing items on models that resemble their body types. As part of its broader strategy, Google aims to enhance the shopping experience and capture a larger share of the e-commerce market while addressing concerns regarding diversity in the fashion industry.

Google’s new feature brings advantages to shoppers, yet it also sparks concerns about its potential consequences for models in the fashion industry. Critics argue that Generative AI may intensify inequalities, such as limited model diversity. To tackle these concerns, Google strives to incorporate real models of varying sizes, ethnicities, skin tones, body shapes, and hair types in its virtual try-on feature.

The introduction of this AI-powered feature aligns with Google’s broader strategy of becoming a comprehensive shopping platform and connecting merchants with consumers. Google aims to leverage its open ecosystem and the power of AI to enhance the shopping experience. This move comes as a response to the growing competition from e-commerce giants like Amazon and emerging platforms such as TikTok, attracting younger audiences.

In addition to the virtual try-on feature, Google is introducing various updates to Google Shopping. These updates include AI-powered filtering options for clothing searches, enabling users to refine their searches based on criteria like color, style, and pattern. Furthermore, Google is expanding its use of generative AI to enhance other areas, such as travel destination research and mapping routes.


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