London - Once only an experienced sales assistant armed with a tape-measure could ensure a woman found the perfect size bra.
Now a smartphone app is claiming to be even more accurate – as well as less embarrassing for those who might find undressing in front of a stranger a little uncomfortable.
All users have to do is stand in front of a mirror wearing a tight-fitting top or in their bra and take two selfies.Holding the smartphone at belly-button height, they take one snap facing front, then turn 90 degrees and take the other from the side. They must take the photo themselves.
The software - which is only available on Apple devices - was developed by San Francisco-based lingerie company Thirdlove.
It first calculates the distance between the mirror and the body using the smartphone as a unit of measurement. From that it works out the size of the woman’s body as well as her bust size – all within the space of five minutes, the makers claim. Afterwards customers can order Thirdlove bras online, many of which come in half-sizes.
Heidi Zak, founder of the company, said: “In essence what we are getting is a woman’s overbust, her underbust measurement and her body shape, which is the same thing a bra fitter gets in a store.
“We understand how far you are from the mirror based on the size of the phone.
“I can detect the size of her body in relation to the phone and then we infer a circumference and a body shape from that. In essence, when you think of a woman in the store getting out the measuring tape, we are doing that using a phone as a standard unit of measure.”
She conceded the app is not foolproof because inaccuracy can occur if the phone is not held at the right angle. Zak told the Guardian: “It is more accurate than a measuring tape assuming someone follows the directions properly.”
What about customers who worry that pictures of them in a state of undress might potentially stray into the wrong hands?
Thirdlove insists that the photos are never sent over the internet, although the measurements derived from them are. The company states: “Your photos are never stored. All of our sizing takes place on your phone. We never view, upload or share your photos.”
Women can customise the trim, colour and strap of the bra to ensure maximum comfort. And the company advises using its breast shape guide – for example round or tear-shaped – to choose the most appropriate styles for them.
Thirdlove is not the first lingerie company to use technology to measure customers. Rigby & Peller, the Queen’s supplier of underwear which is famed for its sizing service, has started using 3D mirrors in its London and Hong Kong stores, which scan a woman’s body and bra using lasers for more accurate results.