eBay adds computer graphics biz PhiSix to 3D portfolio, strategy

Summary:The e-commerce giant has been pulling back the curtain slowly on a 3D printing agenda.

The eBay shopping experience -- as far as retail is concerned -- is poised for a dramatic change thanks to a new acquisition.

The target was PhiSix Fashion Labs, a computer graphics company that creates 3D models of clothing from photos and patterns to discern appropriate sizes and likely movements of the fabric.

Here's an example, provided by eBay:

These 3D models allow shoppers to use a virtual fitting room to view the clothes in various scenarios – such as walking down the street or hitting a golf club, rather than using a dressing room.

All in all, the online auction site described the result and pending feature headed to the digital marketplace as a "virtual fitting room."

Improper fits and unsatisfying sizes are the usual culprits behind most clothing purchase returns. Thus, eBay is hoping that the integration of this technology will help reduce returns in the long run.

The San Jose-headquartered corporation also hinted in the announcement that PhiSix's resources could be implemented elsewhere within the vast eBay portfolio, which includes PayPal and eBay Enterprise, formerly known as GSI Commerce.

CEO Jonathan Su, who founded PhiSix in 2012, and his three-person team will all be joining eBay Inc.’s Innovation and New Ventures team to continue to focus on related developments in retail.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The e-commerce giant has been pulling back the curtain slowly on a 3D printing agenda.

Last summer, eBay Exact debuted as a new mobile app for customizable, 3D-printed merchandise that could be designed and sold directly on smartphones.

At that time, eBay has enlisted a trio of 3D printers: Brooklyn-based MakerBot, France-based Sculpteo and Toronto, Canada-based Hot Pop Factory.

For a closer look at the eBay/PhiSix merger, check out the promo video below:

Topics: E-Commerce, Hardware, Software Development, Start-Ups, Web development


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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