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Virtual Try-On (VTO) for Eyewear Industry Overview

Looking for a cutting-edge virtual try-on (VTO) solution for the eyewear industry? Learn about the VTOs, compared solutions in the market, what to look while choosing.
arshades virtual try on (vto) for eyewear industry overview

Virtual try-on (VTO) for eyewear has revolutionised the way consumers shop for glasses.

Virtual Try-On (VTO) technology uses augmented reality (AR) to superimpose virtual eyewear on customers’ faces in real-time, allowing them to try on different eyewear styles virtually, like looking in a mirror.

Companies that want to remain competitive in the rapidly evolving eyewear market should consider investing in VTO technology. By providing customers with a realistic and immersive try-on experience, VTO can increase conversion rates, reduce return rates, and improve customer satisfaction.

Virtual Try-on Benefit 

While the cost of implementing a VTO strategy for eyewear companies may be a concern, the benefits of VTO far outweigh the costs.

Studies have shown that customers who use Virtual Try-On (VTO) are more likely to make a purchase, with VTO leading to a 40% increase in conversion rates (Grand View Research). Customers are more likely to purchase after they visualize the product on themselves. Additionally, VTO has been shown to reduce the return rate by 23%, as it helps consumers choose more accurately, thereby reducing the likelihood of dissatisfaction and subsequent returns (Fittingbox).

Furthermore, eyewear brands offering VTO have experienced a 30% increase in customer retention rates, indicating improved brand loyalty (L2 Think Tank). The perceived value of brands offering VTO is also significantly higher, with a 62% improvement in how shoppers view these brands, perceiving them as more customer-oriented and technologically advanced (Vision Monday).

Moreover, pages featuring VTO technology report a 27% longer duration of stay compared to pages without, showcasing enhanced customer engagement (Shopify). With the global eyewear market expected to reach $178 billion by 2026, VTO is quickly becoming an essential tool for eyewear companies.

As a result, the investment needed is paid back in many ways. By enhancing a solid e-commerce strategy, companies can drastically reduce costs traditionally associated with the physical retailers’ network strategy. Additionally, using 3D digital assets for web and social campaigns can significantly reduce the need for costly photo shoots, renderings, etc., reducing marketing expenses. VTO can even lower the environmental impact associated with shipping and returns of physical eyewear, as it reduces the need for customers to order multiple pairs to try on.

Different types of VTO

There are two main types of VTO technology: marker-based and markerless. Marker-based VTO uses markers or reference points, such as a card or a delimited portion of the screen, to identify the position and orientation of the user’s face. Markerless VTO, as ARShades VTO, uses facial recognition algorithms to detect the position and orientation of the user’s face without the need for markers.

The technology used for Virtual Try-on solutions matters, and it affects the final customer experience. It can enhance the brand identity and conversion rate. However, it can also generate the opposite effect if the technology needs to be adequate and up to date.

Thus, eyewear companies should carefully assess market players’ characteristics before price. In doing so, one should look at the way a solution guarantees:

Ease, Speed, Realism, Quality, Cross-platform compatibility, multichannel access.

Beyond these characteristics, there are many aspects to be considered under the hood, like the process of generating the 3D digital assets, the overall level of customization, the analytics tools, and the tecnical support.

Here are some of the different areas affecting the VTO technology that are currently under the spotlight:

  1. 3D Modeling: This technology uses detailed 3D models of eyewear that can be virtually placed on a user’s face. It provides an accurate simulation of how the glasses will look and fit, taking into account the user’s unique facial features. Companies like ARShades utilise 3D modelling to ensure photorealistic visuals, making the virtual try-on experience as close to real life as possible.
  2. Photo-Based Try-On: Some platforms allow users to upload a photo, which is then used to overlay virtual eyewear. While not as interactive as live AR, this method is useful for users who may have slower internet connections or prefer to see a static image of themselves with different frames. It provides a quick way to try on multiple styles without the need for real-time video processing.
  3. AI-Powered Try-On: Artificial intelligence (AI) enhances VTO by offering personalized recommendations based on the user’s face shape, skin tone, and personal style preferences. AI algorithms analyse the user’s features and suggest the best-fitting frames, improving the accuracy of the virtual try-on experience. This type of VTO is increasingly integrated with AR to provide both visual and fit accuracy.
  4. Virtual Reality (VR) Try-On: VR takes VTO a step further by creating a fully immersive environment where users can interact with eyewear products. Although less common due to higher hardware requirements, VR try-on will offer in a near future unparalleled immersion, making it ideal for in-store experiences or high-end shopping environments.
  5. Hybrid Systems: Some advanced VTO platforms like ARShades combine multiple technologies, such as AR, AI, and 3D modelling, to offer a comprehensive and highly personalised virtual try-on experience. These hybrid systems leverage the strengths of each technology to provide users with the most accurate and enjoyable virtual fitting process.

As VTO technology continues to evolve, we can anticipate the integration of more advanced features. These include enhanced 3D facial mesh generation and precise 3D facial scanning, which provide highly accurate representations of users’ faces. The use of 3D avatars will allow for more personalized and interactive experiences, while 3D glasses positioning based on gravity will ensure a more realistic and comfortable fit. Additionally, AI-powered fitting suggestion systems will offer personalized recommendations based on individual facial features and preferences. Improved integration with browsers, various platforms, and social media will further streamline the user experience. These innovations will significantly enhance the convenience and satisfaction of online eyewear shopping, positioning VTO as a standard feature in the industry.

The State of the Art of VTO in the Eyewear Market

There are several VTO solutions on the market, each with unique features and capabilities. 

Various virtual try-on (VTO) solutions cater to different needs within the eyewear industry, focusing either on retailers or manufacturers. Some prioritize providing a realistic try-on experience, while others offer faster and more cost-effective solutions targeting a broader audience. When selecting a VTO provider, it’s essential to consider a wide range of options that may not be immediately apparent to the general public. Here, we present a list of key features to consider when evaluating VTO solutions.

Full 3D Frames vs. Textured Models

Most solutions on the market offer a VTO that uses textures to create a 3D model of the customer’s face. While this solution is faster and cheaper for creating digital 3D assets and, therefore, suitable for quick deployment and broad device compatibility, the results are much less realistic. This could potentially impact user confidence and may result in a shaky and unreliable experience due to device limitations.

Browser Based solution vs App Based solution

The majority offer web-based solutions that are easily accessible through any browser without the need for downloads, broadening the potential user base. This solution also simplifies updates and maintenance. However, web-based solutions have very limited performance compared to native apps, offering a less smooth and interactive experience. A multichannel solution, on the other way, offering VTO apps and web-based, can offer the best experience based on the actual device the customer is using.

Instant Apps/App Clips

On offering VTO apps, one of the significant barriers in virtual try-on (VTO) technology is the reluctance of users to download full applications, often due to concerns about storage space, data usage, or perceived inconvenience. This hesitation can lead to missed opportunities for engagement and conversion. To address this issue, ARShades offers Instant Apps and App Clips, providing a quick and convenient try-on experience without the need for full app installation. These lightweight versions reduce friction by allowing users to access essential features instantly unloacking all the power of using a VTO App.

Marker-Based Try-On vs. Markerless Try-On

Marker-Based Try-On requires users to use specific reference points, such as a card or designated area on the screen, to calibrate the system. While this method can be simpler to implement and may work well in controlled environments, it can be less user-friendly and may disrupt the fluidity of the virtual try-on process. Marker-based systems can also struggle with varying lighting conditions and user movement, potentially impacting the realism and reliability of the experience.

Conversely, Markerless Try-On technology utilizes advanced facial recognition algorithms to detect the position and orientation of a user’s face without the need for physical markers. This approach enhances user convenience and offers a seamless experience, allowing users to try on eyewear naturally and spontaneously. It also reduces setup complexity and improves the accuracy of the virtual fit.

Virtual Try-On with Frame Removal

Some company offer Virtual Try-On (VTO) technology with frame removal. It enhances the user experience by allowing customers to try on new frames without removing their existing optic glasses. This innovative feature uses advanced Diminished Reality and AI to digitally erase the user’s current eyewear​.

Pupillary Distance (PD) Measurement Tools for Virtual Try-On

Accurate pupillary distance (PD) measurement and other facial metrics are crucial for ensuring prescription glasses fit correctly and for fitting suggestions. In the context of Virtual Try-On (VTO) technology, both web-based and app-based PD measurement tools provide accessible and precise solutions. These tools can be Marker-Based or Markless, as well as web-based or app-based.

VTO Analytics Data

Some VTO providers offer analytics data that provides deep insights into consumer preferences, market trends, and operational efficiencies. By analyzing VTO data, such as which glasses are the most popular, the duration customers spend trying on glasses, and which frames are frequently selected, companies can refine their product design and marketing strategies to better serve customers.

Even within the limitations imposed by user privacy regulations on data collection and usage, such as GDPR and CCPA, the growing adoption of Virtual Try-On (VTO) solutions allows eyewear companies to gather extensive data on customer behavior. This leads to more informed decision-making and provides a competitive edge in the market. Embracing these innovations not only enhances customer satisfaction but also drives sustainable growth and profitability.

3D Asset Validation Tool in VTO

Very few providers offer a 3D asset validation tool in Virtual Try-On (VTO) technology. This tool ensures the accuracy and realism of digital 3D models by verifying that they meet the necessary specifications and quality standards before being used in virtual try-ons.

For eyewear manufacturers, this means a streamlined process for digitalising their 3D glasses models. The tool helps in detecting any discrepancies or errors in the 3D models, ensuring that the final product closely mirrors the real-world item in both appearance and dimensions.

Moreover, a 3D asset validation tool can improve the efficiency of the production process by automating the validation of 3D assets.​

About ARShades

ARShades, uses full 3D frames to provide a very realistic try-on experience. ARShades also uses real-time face detection, ensuring that the real-size glasses fit properly and look real on the customer. ARShades also offers native app solutions for Apple and Android devices, also in instant and app clip app, as well as web-based VTO solutions, making it accessible to a wide range of platforms and users. In addition, it offers analytics tools to help eyewear companies and retailers track customer engagement and tools for managing and customising all its solutions.

In the past year, we have made significant advancements in all our features, strengthening and simplifying them to be more reliable and cost-effective than ever before. Today, we are on the verge of launching new features, such as our Pupillary Distance tool (AR PD Meter), which is a markerless, web-based, and app-based solution proven to be fast and robust. Additionally, we are in the process of developing other advanced features like frame removal, 3D asset generation AI-based, which will further solidify ARShades’ position as a leading VTO provider globally.

The following table highlights the main features of ARShades VTO solution as of today:

Full 3D framesYes
Real-time face detectionYes
Native app IOSYes
Native app AndroidYes
Web-based solutionYes
Instant apps/app clipYes
Markerless try-onYes
Customization optionsYes
Frame removalAbout there
PD Measurement and Advanced Face metricsImminent
Analyse avancéeYes
Asset validation toolYes


By providing customers with a realistic and immersive try-on experience, VTO can increase conversion rates, reduce return rates, improve customer satisfaction and brand appeal, and cut other costs. In addition, ARShades, with its full 3D frames, real-time face detection, and instant apps, offers a cutting-edge VTO solution accessible on a wide range of platforms. It also offer high level of customisation, and advanced analytics and a solid 3D asset validation tool.
When considering the different VTO solutions on the market, it is important for eyewear companies to weigh the pros and cons of each solution and choose the one that best meets their needs. By investing in VTO technology, eyewear companies can stay ahead of the competition and provide their customers with a seamless and immersive shopping experience.

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