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Neiman Marcus Brings High-Tech Memory Mirror To Dallas

Bill Zeeble
Neiman Marcus customer Laurie Schneider tries on a dress in front of the store's digital mirror. It records a video of her, so she can view the outfit at every angle and see others she's tried on side by side.

Neiman Marcus, Dallas’ famous high-end retailer, is the first store with a full-size digital mirror. It records what you try on so you can compare clothes side by side then lets you share those looks with others online. The high-tech mirror arrived at a North Texas store last month.

Disguised in a brushed, stainless steel frame, the digital mirror looks like any of  the others in Neiman Marcus’s women’s department.

“What you see in Neiman Marcus, it’s not a regular mirror,” says co-creator Salvador Vilcosky.">“It’s a digital mirror that we created.”

Salvador Vilcosky is the CEO of Memomi, which stands for Memory Mirror. Call the Silicon Valley company and he’s the one who answers. Just back from showing off the mirror at Milan Fashion Week, he explains it’s just a screen with a first-of-its-kind camera on top.

“If you put a camera on top of a screen, you will look totally distorted,"  Vilcosky said. "Your head will be big, and your legs will be very short, and you’ll look pretty funny. But what we are doing, we are correcting the perspective in real time, from any distance that you stand in front of the mirror. And it looks like actually the camera is behind the screen.”

This setup, and a built-in recorder, solves problems retailers have struggled with forever.

“If I want to see what I look like from the back, right, I have to turn my head and see if I can twist my neck around enough to see what I’m looking at,” says Scott Emmons, who runs the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab. “I don’t have to do that.”

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
Scott Emmons runs the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab in Irving.

Scott Emmons’s business card labels him as the enterprise architect and curator of the Neiman Marcus iLab in Irving. What sets this mirror apart, he says. is that it records an eight-second video.

“The idea is you would do a twirl,” Emmons says. “Then you can play that video back as many times as you would like, right? And you can really see how the outfit looks on you.”

Back in the real world, Laurie Schneider’s taking turn in front of the Memory Mirror at the Willow Bend Neiman. She did the quick registration on the store’s iPad, added her personal ID, and is now checking out her video.

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
Laurie Schneider thinks about her pink dress while an associate explains how to save and send recorded videos of what she's tried on.

“I like seeing the pictures because I like the visual," Schneider says. "I like that a lot. And I do think me being able to see the back rather than from the creak of my neck, it shows all the way around.”

There’s another thing that the 360-degree view tells her.

“Told me I have some back fat,” Schneider said, laughing. “So, to me, this is awesome. Mirror’s great.”

Great because it lets her talk to the saleswoman about making the dress fit right  – it’s for her son’s wedding. She was also able to get a second opinion by emailing a picture to her husband Mike.

“He said he knew I was going to like it ‘cause it’s pink. He loves pink. I kind of knew that would be a 'yes,'” Schneider says.

Neiman’s Scott Emmons says if Schneider wanted to, she could have tried on several outfits and videotaped them all.

“It also allows you to do a split screen, and you can look at your live image on one side and you can look at one of the pre-recorded videos on the other side and compare them side by side,” Emmons says.

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
One of this reporter's two images captured by the Memory Mirror.

Neither Neiman nor Vilcosky would say how much the digital mirrors cost. The first two went into Neiman Marcus stores in California late last year.  Last month, the third came to Willow Bend.

“It’s a pretty big thing.” Emmons says. “I don’t think it’s the only big thing but it’s been a surprisingly big thing.”

Emmons expects other retailers will soon latch onto this technology and suspects it could eventually be commonly used at home. Meanwhile, it’s so new to Neiman, the company’s still introducing it to customers while measuring its impact -- in sales and satisfaction -- on the bottom line. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.