Sleepy kittens, a stormy day in the city, a man standing on top of a mountain. These are just a few of the images that UNIQLO's UMood flashes in front of you, as part of its new tech that promises to curate a small selection of t-shirts that match your mood.
The main component of the UMood is a wearable headset that's placed on the forehead, monitoring brainwaves in order to track your state of mind. As the various images flash up in front of you, this headset is collecting data about your "interest, like, stress, concentration and drowsiness", as Consumer Neuroscientist Phil Harris describes the five different factors, in order to determine your mood.
As for the shirts, there are over 600 of them, each with the ability to be recommended to customers via the UMood. "A T-shirt is more than just a T-shirt. It's an expression of who you are. Where you've been. What you love. And with hundreds of limited edition T-shirts to choose from each year, you'll always find one that says exactly how you feel." This is the slogan for UNIQLO's UT line of shirts, proudly plastered across the store, and it seems that the UMood is a natural extension of this philosophy. The question is, does it work?
I sat down for my turn in the comfy padded seat, watching the relaxing gradients of the screen in front of me as I was fitted with the headband. What if I didn't like any of the shirts they recommended? I'd watched a few people go before me, and a lot of the T-shirts being picked for people weren't anything I'd necessarily wear. The short clips start playing in front of me: a multi-coloured static screen, a man swimming in the ocean, a Richter Scale needle ticking, KITTENS! The videos finish and a loading screen pops up, calculating what my responses meant. Eventually the UMood comes to a conclusion: I am feeling adventurous today, apparently.
Adventurous was actually the most common 'mood' I saw pop up this morning, yet interestingly we weren't all served up the same selection of T-shirts. Three of my four recommended shirts also featured geeky properties, like Superman and the Avengers. I wonder if geekiness is transmitted in brainwaves somehow. The system also measures your reaction to the four shirts it presents to you, and then decides on your 'perfect' one out of them. Comedian Ben Law summarised this part of the process most succinctly, pointing out that "it's like Tinder for T-Shirts". I found that this reading wasn't all that accurate however -- I ended up preferring my first shirt, which I had only matched 48 percent with, as opposed to my 'perfect' shirt which was a 67 percent match.
All in all it's a fun little experience. Too often the huge range of choices we're presented with can make it difficult to choose a single item we like, so having a smaller range of options specifically curated can make it much easier. Not to mention it's a cute way to do it. The UMood will operating this weekend at UNIQLO MidCity in Pitt St Mall, before moving to Miranda next Thursday and Parramatta the following weekend.