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Try real rings on virtually thanks to luxury jewelry brand

The biggest drawback to internet shopping is the inability to try on a desired object. But thanks to augmented reality technology, it's now possible. This week, fabled French jeweler Boucheron will release an application for its new sister website, myBoucheron, that will allow visitors to virtually try on rings and timepieces using the "magic mirror" screen technology.

The digital experience requires only a computer, webcam and piece of paper. The user needs to first download and install the program on her computer. Then she simply prints out Boucheron's drawing of a watch or ring, cuts out the design, wraps it around her wrist or finger and waves it in front of her webcam. Thanks to the augmented-reality application, her image will be reflected on the computer screen and the paper jewelry will be digitally transformed into whichever Boucheron model she selects on the myBoucheron website (separate from the brand's main website and online boutique).

Boucheron's application, though innovative, is not the first of its kind. In May, watch brand Tissot debuted similar 3D augmented reality technology on Tissot Reality (a separate website from its primary one), which allowed online shoppers to try on virtual watches from the Tissot Touch Collection. Shoppers were able to see themselves "wearing" the virtual 3D watches in real time simply by holding their wrists in front of their webcams.

Boucheron and Tissot's virtual experiences feel personal and intimate, something many luxury retailers are striving to achieve with their own sites. These brands have traditionally hesitated to offer their products online for fear of losing control of their coveted image, says Jeffrey Grau, senior analyst at the internet market research firm eMarketer. But sophisticated technology is now enabling them to create a rich online shopping experience, which distinguishes them from plain, ordinary e-commerce sites.

Boucheron http://www.myboucheron.com/

Tissot http://www.tissot.ch/reality/