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Since the Covid-19 outbreak, we are advised to practice physical distancing and keep a 1.5-meter distance from others. But this is not always easy to do. With or without corona, there are still business requirements that must continue. New workwear, for example, is one such requirement. How do you measure people while maintaining a 1.5-meter distance? And what do you do when an employee refuses to try on a sample shirt, as colleagues may have previously tried it on?
Digital measuring is the solution. This is a side of the workwear industry that we hear very little about but is growing in popularity. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, more companies are abandoning the traditional measuring tape and opting for digital solutions. I spoke with Alexander Vandevelde from Quantacorp, a company offering digital measurement solutions. What changes have they seen in digital measuring? Which sectors benefit most from it, and how does measuring people from a distance work?
It sounds surreal; taking a person’s measurements from a 1.5-meter distance. How exactly does it work?
“Yes, I get it. Before the corona outbreak digital measuring was in the early stages, while now it is becoming the norm.
It’s a very simple process. We developed an app you download on a tablet. You take a photo of the person from a 1.5-meter distance, and the software calculates the measurements. You only need to take two photos, one from the front and one from the side. And this can the done while wearing your everyday clothes, no need to strip down to your underwear or put on figure-hugging sportswear. This makes our app simple to use on the shop floor.”
But the software cannot see through your clothes, right? So how can it accurately calculate your measurements?
“There are, of course, limits. But as long as you are not wearing very baggy clothes or a wedding dress, the app works.
This is the way we developed the system. It is pretty complex, but basically, it calculates your measurements based on how certain points of your body look. The system has already done so many measurement analyses that it can make an estimate based on the stored data. And it is correct in about 95% of cases. Based on this information and the sizing of the company’s new workwear, the system informs you what size you need.
It is so handy. Take, for example, if you need to measure someone’s crotch area with a measuring tape, you need to get very close to an intimate area. And not a lot of people feel comfortable with this. Whether you are wearing a skirt or pants, the app can approximately measure your crotch height.”
But surely people know that measuring a body is an intimate affair?
“Before we started developing the app, we looked at what is important for people when taking measurements in a business setting. We investigated this in Belgium as we are a Belgian company. The results showed that in a business environment, people dislike having to strip down to their underwear or put on figure-hugging clothes such as sportswear to have their photo taken. Even when it has a functional purpose, i.e. being able to determine sizes for new company workwear.
So we felt we had to do something about this. I get how uncomfortable this is. When a company wants to order new workwear, they must measure all employees, usually in a short space of time. They often do measuring in the canteen area as this is not something that is done regularly, and companies do not have a designated area. For employees, it is often a chore, something to get out of the way as quickly as possible.”
So the client can do everything independently with the app and does not need your help?
“The idea is that the customer can do it all himself. They receive an iPad that has the app installed, a tripod, and a mat on which the person being photographed can stand. Of course, you can use the iPad and app without the tripod and mat. But as you can be measuring up to 60 people an hour and some companies have thousands of employees, you’ll quickly get a dead arm from holding the iPad. And the mat makes it simple for people to know where to stand.
When taking measurements for the first time we are often present, just to make sure they are using the app correctly. But after that, they can do it themselves. Most companies do not want an external person present as it makes employees uncomfortable.“
You told me earlier how you are very busy at the moment. Which sectors are mainly using your app?
“Well, it is actually a bizarre coincidence. But digital measuring is the answer to a lot of issues that have been raised by this virus. Keeping a safe distance from others is one, but also the fact that many people do not want to try on clothes that others have had on. It is completely safe. And for this reason, we are receiving more and more requests from companies that are choosing to move away from the traditional measuring tape.
Not only does the traditional method cost more time and therefore money, but it also is not even an option anymore. We notice an increased demand from companies in the healthcare and industrial sectors. This is because the turnover in these branches is quite high and they have large workforces. As they are regularly taking measurements our system is very beneficial for them. We recommend our system for companies that need to measure 5000 or more employees per year.
Laundries are another sector that often get in touch with us. In addition to washing clothes, they are often responsible for clothing deliveries. Large laundries have a lot of clients with different sizes and this app is a godsend. Also, don’t forget that people are getting more critical. In the past people were happy when an item fitted, nowadays people also expect their clothes to look beautiful. So it needs to be flattering, while also allowing freedom of movement. No easy task.”
Do you expect companies to return to their traditional way of measuring after corona?
“No, I don’t think so. Everyone knows that measuring a person is a time-consuming job. And time is money, it’s as simple as that. So companies will eventually switch to a digital system. Corona has just accelerated the process.”
I wrote this article in collaboration with QuantaCorp. Please read my (Dutch) disclaimer for more information.