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How to show something in actual life size on any computer screen
23 points by phulst on June 5, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments
I'd like to share with you the site I've been working on for the past year and a half... It's called LifeSizer, and allows you to view any product in it's actual true size on any computer screen or mobile device. I came up with this a few years ago when I bought some jewelry for my wife, but after I received it the earrings turned out to be much bigger than I expected. That started me thinking: why isn't it possible to get a better sense of the size of a product on most ecommerce sites? Wouldn't it be great if you could view products in their actual size on a screen, so you really get a better idea of what it is that you're buying?

The technical challenge here was obvious: To be able to display anything in true size on a screen, you'll need to know the pixel density of that screen. Unfortunately there's no way to determine that programmatically (at least not from within a browser). You can calculate it based on the current screen resolution and the physical screen dimensions, but that actual screen size is an unknown too. The beauty (I think) of the solution I came up with is that it allows me to determine that screen size (even if the user doesn't know it himself) by using a simple calibration trick. And we've built in such a way that it can easily be integrated with other sites, here for example: http://mwctoys.com/REVIEW_060412a.htm (see the second image).

We're officially launching today, and please check it out here: http://beta.lifesizer.com/images/featured

I would love to hear input from the community on what you think. Have you ever bought anything online that was much bigger or smaller than you expected? Do you see wide scale use for a feature like this? Would you use it on your own site? How can it be improved further?

thanks! Peter

This is one of the few remaining issues with online shopping for me and would open me up to buying certain products that I feel I need to buy in person. It would be great if this was solved.

I tried this out today and it is very interesting. I could see how retailers can see a very high ROI on this technology in terms of driving revenue.


Product comparison is a good point. Also, you need to find an easy way for the seller to do batch upload of a lot of items that were taken from the same position and resolution (so they have to measure only one image).

EDIT: Integration with common eCommerce systems would be awesome as well..

But the idea is great - and beautifully executed.

thank you! I've actually worked with an ecommerce site that sells beads and things and uses a flatbad scanner for most of their products. With that site I was able to skip the 'add' step altogether and calibrate images on the fly as they are first viewed. Unfortunately this is more the exception than the rule, and in most cases there's not enough consistency in etailers' images that I can always assume the same number of pixels per physical inch.

I'm definitely aware of the potential overhead of adding lifesizer images though, so I've developed a bookmarklet with which customers can calibrate images without leaving their own site. And we continue to look at other methods (ie outsourcing this work) to reduce the amount of integration work to near zero. Thanks for your input though, it's great to see that people see the value.

Did you look into eBay integration? There are a bunch of companies that offer store management and templates. It should be a great feature for them.

This is awesome! A coworker of mine did the same. Ordered a ring online that she thought she saw in a store window while traveling on business. The ring arrived and it was so mafioso. Gave me the best laugh...but she was out several hundred dollars!!

Awesome idea and execution!

The only problem I have is that I may want to open more than one, and you seem to be limiting it.

Say, for example, I have a phone that is on there and see a new phone I want. I may want to compare size without needing to hold up my phone to the screen.

very good point. I do think product comparison will be an important use of this technology, and I'm definitely planning on adding features that would allow this. For now, you could hold your current phone up to your screen and see exactly how it compares ;)

Duplicate the browser tab, then in the 2nd window choose the other phone.

Cool idea, seems like a no brainer for ecommerce websites to include this technology

How does it work with multiple screens? Yes I have a MacBook Pro 17", but that's not the monitor that I'm using.

Yes this credit card is the right size of this monitor, now I'll just drag it over onto this monitor to get a better look...

on most mac systems it will offer you a suggested screen based on your current resolution. If you're viewing it on your laptop screen you can just choose 'macbook pro 17' and you're good to go. If you move your browser over to your external screen it will typically detect that you're now on a different screen (unless that screen is exactly the same resolution), and it should tell you that. You can then do the manual calibration thingy there. At that point (and this is a feature I'm particularly proud of though it may not be used that often), you could drag the LifeSizer window from one screen to the other and it will instantly resize the item to show in lifesize whereever you move the window. Let me know if that works for you!

Yep. Opened it on my monitor and it detected my macbook screen also and gave me the option of both. Really like the site. Good work.

Wow I really like it. It looks very well put-together.

Would it work for large items like refrigerators or am I misunderstanding the purpose?

Also, why is it patented? Boo on that.

it would work for a fridge (provided you use a high enough resolution image), though of course if you were to view that in actual size on a laptop, you would only see a small part of it. You could certainly put it on a big screen in lifesize... it will work with projectors too. There are some measuring tools in the viewer as well, which would allow you to measure the object or part of it, which can be very useful even if you're not viewing it in actual size. Sorry about the patent ;-) I have mixed feelings on them too, but the reality is that patents can open doors in terms of getting funding and building a successful product/service.

Good point about a projector. This could be used for seeing what furniture will look Like in a room.

Sounds incredible - you are really solving a problem. As primarily an online shopper, I am often disappointed by size. Thank you!

Did you give a tech preview here? I remember seeing a similar site that used CDs and other similar items for calibration ...?

no, that wasn't us. If you remember their name would love to check it out.

I think it might be http://pective.com/ , been around since 2008 or so it seems.

Helpful for online shopping -- should prevent disappointment on size and reduce returns.

the credit card calibration was nice. Would be interesting for electronics (Which I buy more frequently than jewelry). Would be neat to have life size faces for hangouts and Skype.

I enjoyed looking at the life size image an iPhone on my iPhone.

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