Size Does Matter: LifeSizer Solves An Age Old Problem, Websites Can Finally Display Actual Size Product Images

June 5, 2012

For the first time ever, online sites can show web surfers and shoppers the actual size of a product online. This simple, innovative technology solves a real problem for shoppers and provides a critical service to e-retailers and other sites that heavily rely on product images for profit or display.

San Francisco, CA – LifeSizer.com announced its public beta launch and now e-Retailers, product review sites, and other sites featuring product images can easily display actual life size images. With its patent-pending web-based technology, website visitors can now see the actual size of a product on their computer or mobile device.

LifeSizer was born from the frustrations of shopping for online jewelry when founder and veteran software engineer Peter Hulst purchased some earrings for his wife. “Even though the site provided the dimensions, I couldn’t get a good sense for how big or small the earrings actually were and it wasn’t clear to me how they would actually look. Once I received them, they were larger than I expected and too large for my wife’s taste, so I had to return them. I figured this couldn’t be an isolated incident and that many consumers shopping for all sorts of other products and industries face the same challenge. I knew there had to be a better way”, said Peter Hulst, CEO and Founder of LifeSizer.

Since the very first product image was uploaded, websites have been unable to offer consumers the actual size of their online product images. The problem stems from the way browsers, operating systems, digital images, and display devices work. Websites cannot detect the physical dimensions of their site visitors’ screen, making it impossible to show images at their actual size. LifeSizer solves this problem using a new and patent-pending method to determine the screen dimensions and thus allowing any site to provide actual life size images to its visitors.

The benefits of actual size images are numerous; they reduce uncertainty for shoppers, create a more engaging shopping and browsing experience, decrease returned items and dissatisfied customers, and ultimately can drive increased sales and profits for ecommerce sites. Consumers no longer have to take a leap of faith when buying a product online. And, at the dawn of an explosion of image-centric sites such as Pinterest, Gilt, MyHabit, its technology satisfies consumer cravings for engaging visually driven experiences.

“We’re happy to be working with LifeSizer to solve a real problem for our customers. We’ve always heard questions about the size of our products and now shoppers can see the exact size as if they were looking at the item in person. LifeSizer’s technology was simple to integrate and customers that use it convert at a higher rate” said David Bolotsky, CEO and Founder of UncommonGoods, an online retailer offering creative, sustainably designed products.

LifeSizer’s launch brings much needed innovation to the product imaging space. Product images are of critical importance to consumers who still struggle with the unknown. Despite all the advances in the product imaging space, none have addressed the issue of actual product size. Lifesizer provides the solution.

To learn more or sign-up for a free trial account, visit http://www.lifesizer.com

About LifeSizer
LifeSizer’s patent-pending technology allows sites to display products in actual life size in any browser or on mobile devices. LifeSizer was founded in 2011 by Peter Hulst and Grant Olsen and is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Media Contact: Grant Olsen
Contact Email: info@lifesizer.com
Phone: 510-473-7950

LifeSizer is launching!

(june 4, 2012)
It’s been a while since I’ve written here, but a lot of things have been happening behind the scenes. After many more months of hard work, we are now ready to launch our public beta. The LifeSizer viewer has been in use for some time now with a few trial customers. We’ve integrated a completely new and slick design, both in the LifeSizer viewer as well as the website. We’ve spoken to customers and potential customers and learned from their needs, wishes, and feedback on our service. We’ve made it even easier for our customers to add images, by developing a bookmarklet that they can use to LifeSize images directly on their own sites. Our LifeSizer patents are pending. We’ve worked out strategy and pricing. We’ve worked on our server architecture to improve reliability and make sure that we can scale to support any size customer. Site content and documentation was update.
We cleaned up our code and tested the hell out of this thing. Yes, there is still plenty to do and plenty of things to improve, and if you check back in a few weeks you’re likely to see several more changes and new features.

Generally though, I feel really good about what we’ve built: a cool, unique, easy to integrate service that helps to solve a real problem that people are dealing with every day. A problem that is causing people frustration and that is costly, especially to businesses. Every time I explain to someone what LifeSizer does, I am told the same story. ‘I wish I would have had that when I bought …’.

The wait is now over. We are open for business and now launching the world’s first integrated life-size browsing experience. We hope you’ll find it useful!


The story behind LifeSizer

This all started several years ago with me buying a small anniversary gift for my wife Rachel. I had a good sense of what she would like… small, elegant, silver hoop earrings. That shouldn’t be that hard. Sure enough, I found some nice ones on the website of a well known jewelry company. The product information on the site was sparse, but they looked like just the type of earrings that Rachel would like. So I ordered and waited for them to arrive.

About a week later I presented the box to Rachel. At first, she looked pleased after opening it, but I could sense that something was wrong. It turned out that (as I had feared when I received them) the earrings were just a bit too big for her taste. I would have known that instantly if I had seen these earrings in a store; but the problem was that there was just no way for me to tell from the image on the website how big these earrings would appear in real life. No dimensions, no other objects or people in the product image that I might have been able to derive the size of these earrings from. I consider myself lucky for being married to a woman who actually prefers smaller jewelry, but needless to say the earrings were ultimately returned and exchanged for something else.

Still, as an entrepreneur, a problem solver and a software developer, this whole experience got me thinking. How many other people may have had a similar online shopping experience? How many others have had to return an item because the size turned out to be different than expected? How many millions of dollars worth of product returns and losses do online businesses have to accept each year due to their customers’ wrong expectations of product size? How do e-commerce stores currently address this problem? Is there a better way?

I looked at some other jewelry sites to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything here. How do people figure out how big something on a website really is? It didn’t take long to realize that almost all web stores use one of three approaches:

  1. The website doesn’t really bother to give any product dimension information at all.
  2. The site does provide detailed product information including dimensions, which may be useful to anyone who has a ruler nearby or can readily and internally visualize how big 1.125 inches is exactly, which is very few of us.
  3. The site attempts to provide a reference to the actual size by displaying some sort of ruler, or another reference object such as a Quarter coin next to the product in the image. At best, that’s as good as solution #2 above, and at worst, it will make an e-commerce site look more like a coin collection than a web store. Sometimes products are shown on models, which might have given us a useful size reference, if only all people were the same size.

 

Shouldn’t there be a better way? “What if you could display a 2 inch object in life size, as 2 true inches, on your computer screen?”, asked my friend, as I described my pondering about this to him. Well, I could certainly make something appear in life size on my own screen, I explained, but then I gave him a long list of technical reasons why, due to limitations of hardware, operating systems, web browsers, javascript, as well as various user experience challenges, it would never be possible to reliably display an object in life size on just any computer display. But he challenged me on my quick dismissal of this concept. For days I couldn’t stop thinking about the problem, until I spent a Sunday afternoon hacking some javascript and html together, which resulted in my first working proof of concept of LifeSizer. Yes, it was clunky, rudimentary, basic and not very user friendly, but it worked! There was no need for the user to figure out and enter the exact model number of their display, and no need to go find the measuring tape to measure up the screen first either. The image of that cellphone on the screen showed exactly the same size as the one in my hand. Why had nobody done this before? Why is this not a standard feature of web stores that sell jewelry, cameras, cellphones, gadgets, toys, baby products, components, etc? Wouldn’t this be much better than that useless zoom feature that so many e-commerce stores have in their product views? Wouldn’t consumers make better buying decisions if they could view a product in life size before purchasing it? Aren’t there a lot of people who prefer to buy that digital camera or necklace in the local store only because they simply want to see its true size first?

Over the next few weeks and months, I iterated on and improved the concept. A single web page turned into a number of pages. Javascript frameworks, a server backend, more math became involved, and over time my LifeSizer app became more powerful and easier to use at the same time. I showed LifeSizer to friends, and everyone thought it was cool and useful. They typically followed up by telling me a story of how they wished they would have had LifeSizer when they bought such and such online.

But then, the project code landed in my backup folder for a couple of years. I never lost belief in the business viability of it, but life, family, career and consulting got in the way, and there just weren’t enough hours in the day to turn this into a revenue generating business.
Years later, when I met Grant – my now business partner and co-founder, it wasn’t hard to convince him that LifeSizer is much more than just a cool little trick. That it has serious potential to help many businesses and consumers. That it can help increase revenues, reduce returns, and give buyers a more realistic view of what they’re buying.

So here we are. After several more months of hard work, we are ready to go, armed with the technology, a patent pending, a big picture vision and short term goals. Though we are still in a private alpha, we are ready to start offering our service to some first clients. Those first users can now take their LifeSize image, embed it in their stores or stick them on their blogs.

If you’re interested in trying it out yourself, please join our invite list and we’ll send you an invitation very soon. We are more than excited to release this service to the world to just see who will use it and how.

We’d love to hear from you. Suggestions, questions, feedback, bugs, anything. Know a site that should use us? Let us know. Or, even better, let them know.

But please do drop us a line, sign up for our mailing list, follow us on Twitter, or on Facebook. We’re here, and we’re listening. Happy LifeSizing!

Peter Hulst
CEO & Founder
LifeSizer, Inc.