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Interactive Customization Goes Brick and Mortar

Stroll into Foot Locker’s store in New York’s Times Square and you can’t miss the bright red kiosk. Built around large interactive video screens, the kiosk invites shoppers to customize and then buy an iconic running shoe, the New Balance 574, before their personalized design is manufactured.

Via the touch screens, a potential buyer can choose from myriad color choices for various shoe components, different materials, and add text such as a name. A design can be zoomed in for an up-close inspection and turned 360 degrees before ordering. The kiosk includes physical samples of the shoes’ various parts, from thread and laces to leather and mesh swatches.

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Embodee Adds Footwear to Its 3D Visualization System

New York City (PRWEB) — Embodee Corp. today announced the development of a unique process to create vivid online 3D images of footwear and apparel accessories such as handbags, gloves, and hats. The development represents a significant extension of its garment digitization system.

The virtual products can be viewed from any angle and smoothly rotated, replicating a 360-degree video inspection. Another benefit: the products can be interactively revised with multiple design options if brands want to offer customers the ability to customize or personalize based on individual aesthetic tastes.

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Embodee: All in a Name

We’re vexed that our company name is occasionally mispronounced. Not to get all schoolmarmish here, but Embodee is pronounced the same as em-BOD-y, not em-BODE-ee. Merriam-Webster says it aloud for easy aural reference.

Perhaps the mispronunciations are the price of using a branding practice popular among tech firms. The practice: intentionally misspelling a word to make it more memorable, and in cases such as Embodee, also using a word that describes an aspect of what they do.

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Stumptown Becoming Techtown

Embodee’s hometown is basking in buzz about becoming a cradle for technology startups and entrepreneurs.

And not just Portland. New tech jobs at both small and well-established technology companies have led Oregon out of the Great Recession. So rapid has been the growth that some CEOs collaborated on a video to help entice tech talent to Portland to fill mounting job vacancies.

The range of tech companies, as well as entrepreneurs in many fields, was on prominent display last week at the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network’s annual awards dinner.

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Summer Shines on Embodee and Its 3D Imaging

The Embodee team has been basking in more than sunshine this summer. We’ve enjoyed an unprecedented season of attention: news about receiving a patent for our unique garment imaging technology, recognition for our revenue growth, and the honor of being named a finalist for a prestigious entrepreneurial award. Today brings more welcome attention from the Portland Business Journal and writer Joseph Gallivan.

The print edition headline: “Apparel in the third dimension: With executives from the film and semiconductor industries, Embodee Corp. is taking 3D technology to the apparel world. But is the apparel world ready?”

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Embodee Named Finalist for Entrepreneurship Award

Embodee is one of three Portland technology companies chosen as finalists for an annual award given by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network. OEN announced the news July 9 on its blog. We’re pleased to be considered with the other finalists for the OEN Working Capital Stage Company of the Year Award, and congratulate Janrain and Puppet Labs.

Seven finalists in the other two categories of the OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards, Development Stage and Growth Stage, were also announced. The finalists in all three categories were chosen from more than 40 nominees.

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Embodee Ranks High Among Region’s Private Firms

Embodee Corp. ranks as the 15th fastest-growing private company in Oregon and southwest Washington based on its revenue increase from 2010 through 2012.

Portland Business Journal, which compiles a Top 100 list annually, announced the rankings at a gala Thursday night in downtown Portland. Private companies in all industries were considered for the honor. Embodee’s revenue increased 309.8 percent during the three-year period.

The news follows Embodee’s announcement last week that the company had been awarded a U.S. government patent for its unique process of creating and modeling 3D garments. Large apparel brands that use the process improve how they merchandise and sell products online.

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Patents, Tech Innovation, and Credibility

We announced a milestone this week in a news release: Embodee’s process for creating and modeling 3D digital images of apparel has been awarded a U.S. government patent. Here’s an excerpt:

“Many previous patented innovations in garment digitization focused on providing more cost-effective development and manufacturing of garments from raw materials. Embodee’s invention enables the reverse: taking existing garments from the real world and creating cost-effective yet vivid digital reproductions in any number of variations from just a single sample.”

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U.S Patent for 3D Digital Garment Process

From PRWebEmbodee Corp. Awarded Patent for Creating and Modeling 3D Digital Garments

Dynamic image rendering process lowers costs for brands and facilitates digital merchandising and mass customization.

Portland, Ore., June 11, 2013 — Embodee Corp. has been awarded a U.S. government patent for its unique process of creating and modeling 3D digital garments. Large apparel brands that use the process improve how they merchandise and sell products online.

For the first time, the process makes possible production of an unlimited volume of dynamically rendered garment images at lower incremental costs than conventional photography. Brands can display virtual samples for merchandising to wholesalers and retailers, and finished garments for e-commerce sales.

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Mass Customization by the Numbers

Calculator in hand, we dug through a 349-page report about companies that enable shoppers to customize products online. Among the unearthed statistical nuggets: 160 of the 900 firms in the “Configurator Database Report 2013” sell apparel. At 18%, that’s far and away the largest of 16 industry categories of products in the international database, a treasure trove of information about the mass customization movement in manufacturing. cyLEDGE, a new media, technology and strategy consultancy in Vienna, Austria, developed and maintains the database.

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PUMA’S Davis: Allure of Mass Customization

Embodee recently spent time with Thomas Davis, global head of e-commerce for PUMA, to discuss changes and challenges in the apparel industry. Here, in the second of two installments, are excerpts of our conversation.

Embodee: How does mass customization fit in from your perspective?

Davis: When you start thinking about a diversified product strategy in terms of more SKUs, more colors, and more options, you start running into liability. Meaning, you have to front load cash flow to pay for inventory/product that might sit on shelves for weeks if not months before it’s purchased and your return on the investments is recouped. It’s the long-tail game. When you’re trying to keep your margins high and your turn ratios high, it’s a very difficult one to balance. Creating lots of inventory that sits on shelves all over the world is just basically money sitting there that can’t be allocated toward other business-enhancing projects. The turnaround time on product is probably a year lead time for some companies. That’s a long time to tie up money, especially when there’s no guarantee in the world of fashion.

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PUMA: Challenges in an Omnichannel World

Embodee recently spent time with Thomas Davis, global head of e-commerce for PUMA, to discuss changes and challenges in the apparel industry. Here, in the first of two installments, are excerpts of our conversation.

Embodee: What are the most significant challenges for apparel companies like PUMA in this omni-channel sales world? There’s certainly a lot being written about it.

Davis: It depends on what kind of company you are. I’ll boil it down to just PUMA and the wholesale channels because this is a landscape of your retail and wholesale channels; and obviously your wholesalers are partners and clients too. Secondly, the brand has to decide what is the balance between sales and marketing. So it’s a complicated dance to figure out, and there isn’t one right or wrong answer. Further, how do you get these channels to work in concert while still balancing the needs of marketing and brand? Making sure that all of these business interests—everything—work together and complement each other is much easier said than done.

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Mass Customizations and Expressions of ‘Me’

Here at Embodee we’re not shy about evangelizing the benefits of mass customization and co-creation in the manufacture and sale of products, especially apparel. Yes, our fervor is self-serving: Embodee’s best-of-breed 3D visualization technology enhances the process. But we’re also naturally curious about the many dynamics of this post-Industrial Age shift in the way things are bought then made (not made then bought, as in the era of mass production). Our latest obsession is touchy-feely. It’s the emotional side of purchasing something you design to meet your individual functional needs and aesthetic desires.

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Customizing the Customization Lexicon

When something significant disrupts the status quo, a specialized lexicon inevitably emerges and grows. Look no further than the thousands of Internet- and computer-related words, phrases, and acronyms that didn’t exist two decades ago. Now there are enough to fill the 528 pages of NetLingo: The Internet Dictionary.

The more recent and ongoing shift to customization in manufacturing has also spawned specialized words and terms. Some define variations and subsets of customization: mass customization, co-creation, crowdsourcing, open innovation, virtual personalization, personalized production, DYO—design your own, and so on.

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Completely One with Mass Customization

Let’s say you’re ambitious and want to start a business or grow an existing global company that makes things. And let’s say you aren’t fully versed in the changing dynamics in the world of design and manufacturing. And why consumers increasingly expect the ability to customize products as a prerequisite for purchase. What sage advice do you need?Whether you’re an entrepreneur or senior manager, start with reading Custom Nation: Why Customization Is the Future of Business and How to Profit From It. The book is a primer on what one of the CEOs interviewed calls the new Industrial Revolution and “the single strongest driving force in how to please your customers today.”