They could revolutionise the way people shop for clothes online; virtual change rooms, coming to a laptop or smartphone near you.
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9 Nov 2013 - 4:12 PM  UPDATED 11 Nov 2013 - 10:34 AM
More than half of all Australians now shop online for at least some of their retail needs, but when it comes to clothing and personal items, it can be hard to know if what you think you're paying for is what you'll get.
 
Fashion retailer Miriam Koenig understands the problem better than most.
 
"I always had the problem that customers couldn't try on the dresses, didn't know what it would look like on them, didn't know if it would suit them or not," she said.

"I had a lot of returns.”
 
She imagined a way to put buyers in the picture, by using simple technology and the camera now present in most computers and personal devices. She calls it the "virtual mirror",  just one interpretation of what online shopping could look like.

CSIRO research scientist Simon Lucey imagines an even more high-tech future.
 
The Brisbane-based computer vision expert has drawn on advances in artificial intelligence to develop facial mapping technology.
 
The technology is already being used in a commercial setting by a US-based sunglasses website, and Mr Lucey believes the research could have far-reaching applications.
 
"If we can teach these devices to see like we see, we can start doing all sorts of things by augmenting how we see the world," he says.
 
"For instance, if I'm at home, and I want to go 'I wonder how that couch looks in the lounge room', could I actually do that virtually, and not have to go to the furniture store?"
 
Using virtual reality to shop is not necessarily a new idea. Sydney-based online retailer Kath Purkis said she first thought about implementing a similar product, through a US-based company, four years ago, but changed her mind when she saw the product.

"The technology hadn't evolved enough, the price-point was far too high," she says.
 
However, she too, believes that with the right technology, the right interpretation of the concept could be a big success.
 
"I think at the end of the day, consumers want something that delivers them what is advertised to them," she says. 
 
"It really helps with the boundary between shopping online behind your laptop and being in a physical store."