Jan 20, 2016 | By Andre
Being selected by any organization or publication as an important contributor to your field is something anyone would be proud of. Caroline Walerud, the twenty-five year old Cofounder of Volumental, might feel that way after being selected by Forbes in the Retail & E-Commerce category of their inaugural 30 Under 30 Europe list.
For her it all started when Volumental, a company she co-founded, started work on a modern approach to finding the perfect shoe for every uniquely sized individual. By noting that “half of women regularly buy shoes that don’t fit,” the company hopes to solve this with 3D scanning technology to ensure a perfect fit every time.
After graduating in neuroscience from Cambridge University in 2012, she spent a brief amount of time with a satellite image analysis startup before moving on. But in reality, the entrepreneurial spirit exhibited by Walerud and as recognized by Forbes, was alive in her for years. During summers as a teenager, she baked and sold homemade bread in the nearby Swedish resort area of Kungshamm. It was with these early experiences that she learned “the fundamentals of business: pricing strategy, customer targeting and cash flow management.”
Moving on to what is winning her some acclaim today is the development of a high-tech foot scanner that utilizes Intel’s relatively affordable RealSense 3D technology. The subject only has to step onto the scanning platform for two seconds before the four-depth cameras built into the platform acquire necessary volumetric information.
Once the necessary data is acquired, multiple data points are processed to provide information on arch length and ball width of the scanned foot. These are two measurements that shoe retailers typically find difficult to record using traditional measurement tools but ultimately are important for a healthy fit.
Furthermore, the sleek looking, tablet based software interface can also use any statistical information gained from the scan and determine, from a list of shoes currently stocked by the retailer, what aligns with the customer’s specific needs.
Already available to retailers in Europe and Asia, the 3D scanning technology is soon ready to explore the US market with big brands like Boulanger, Brooks Brothers, Coop and Levi Strauss & Co already signed on.
It also appears that even after the early success of Volumental’s 3D foot scanning platform, it’s doubtful that Caroline Walerud will slow down any time soon. After the company founded in 2012 with a 4-member team consisting of Alper Aydemir, Miroslav Kobetski, Rasmus Göransson and herself, they have quickly grown in size to more than twenty and have raised more than $5 million in startup cash from several major venture capital firms (and even the Swedish government).
From a bigger picture perspective, Caroline Walerud’s view is that “that the current system of going around the stores, trying on lots of shoes or jeans and different products and having a problem of not knowing whether you are medium or large,” is rather outdated and suggests that the "system will be completely gone in 10 years. Instead it will be size me, you will only be given products that fit your body shape. We are going to create that standard for how to size people. In the first, for shoes and then for other products.”
With retailers already in place and more to come soon, the company is moving ahead their second business application by teaming up with opticians and eyewear brands to develop a new facial 3D scanner. Similar to what they did with shoe sizing, their new product called VACKER will let you 3D scan faces to provide a perfect 3D topography of the face for glasses fitting with a sub-millimetre accuracy. Just like before, the recorded data-points will assist when sizing glasses frames based on 12 different parameters, all in real-time, before making recommendations based on retail inventory to the sales associate.
Based on everything I know about this Forbes 30 Under 30 winner, I’m not surprised she’s a founding member of a team that discovered for itself a perfect niche in the retail sizing market. Her accomplishments are a perfect example of how sometimes it only takes the right mind, in the right time to have a vision that one day might be felt around the world… one comfortable foot at a time.
Posted in 3D Scanning
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