Walmart's virtual fitting room lets you use your own photos, but we have questions

Be Your Own Model on Walmart
(Image credit: Walmart)

Walmart is upgrading its virtual fitting room service by now allowing people to upload pictures of themselves and see how clothes fit on their bodies.

The new tool is called Be Your Own Model, a follow-up to Choose My Model. The old version had you choose a body that's similar to yours from a selection of 50 models to see how clothes may fit on you. It was a cool concept, but with notable limitations. You had to eyeball the whole process and hope you could find a body match. With Be Your Own Model, virtual clothes fitting aims to be easier and more accurate.

Walmart states it uses “algorithms and intricate machine learning models” to help people better visualize how clothes look on them. You’ll have access to over 270,000 items across the company’s catalog, including some brand names, with plans to expand. According to the announcement, all of the items will be women’s clothing, but there are reports that Be Your Own Model will expand to include men’s and children’s clothing.

The update is making its way to the Walmart app on iOS right now, and, soon, users will be able to upload their photos to a desktop computer and try out Choose My Model there. There will be a rollout to “Android devices in the coming weeks.”

How it works

To get started with Be Your Own Model, you find an article of clothing in the Walmart app that supports the new tool and then tap the Try It On button. From there, you prop up your iPhone and take a picture of yourself in a brightly lit room while you wear tight-fitting clothing. The app needs to be able to see your entire body. It’ll then ask you how tall you are, and after a brief moment, the app will show you the outfit on your body.

The clothes fitting isn’t a simple overlay either as Be Your Own Model will simulate how a dress falls on a body as well as showing shadows and fabric draping. This is thanks to the “machine learning models,” according to Walmart. The tech will also take into account color, sizes, and even sleeve lengths on shirts.

There is one major omission in the announcement and that is the level of security found in Be Your Own Model. As stated earlier, you will have to take pictures of yourself in tight-fitting clothing, but nowhere does it say how Walmart will protect these images. Not even a brief mention of what type of encryption tech is being used, if at all.

We reached out to Walmart and asked them about Be Your Own Model’s security as well as any limitations the tool might have, like if it only accepts certain file sizes. This story will be updated if we hear back. 

Update 9-19-2022: A Walmart representative got back to us and stated that the company doesn't store any images, metadata, or give information to any third parties. They also said images are encrypted and only users have access to them. However, this information is seemingly contradicted by the feature's own terms agreement page. According to the agreement page, images will be stored on your Walmart account for "future use" and will stay there for up to four years if you don't delete them or the account.

With regards to Be Your Own Model on desktop, the representative stated you don't have to upload images as the photos will automatically be there if you take them with the Walmart app.

Changing reality

Thinking about Be Your Own Model made us realize how often virtual and augmented reality has been appearing in other factors of life besides video games. For example, virtual makeup started to appear back in 202. With it, people can upload pictures of themselves and see how a certain cosmetic would look on their faces before buying. Amazon has done something similar with Amazon Showroom, a service that lets you place virtual furniture in a virtual room to give you an idea of how it'll look in your house.

It’s unknown if other big-name stores will incorporate virtual fitting rooms. Amazon’s smart mirror patent for virtual clothes hasn’t really gone anywhere, but there are apps out there like YourFit, so the potential is there. But no one has capitalized on virtual fitting rooms quite like Walmart.

If you’d like to know how augmented reality may further impact lives, be sure to check TechRadar’s story on Microsoft bringing the tech to vehicles

Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.