Ottawa company makes clickable video fashionable

An Ottawa company is hoping its clickable video technology will help consumers shop while they watch the latest fashions.

An Ottawa company's hopes its clickable video technology will help consumers shop while they watch the latest fashions.

Ottawa-based Overlay TV is partnering with online retail software company Marketlive Inc. to provide interactive video for the website of Armani Exchange, a youth-oriented label of fashion giant Armani.

Rob Lane, the CEO of Overlay TV, said the technology allows online viewers to click on highlighted portions of a video while it plays, get more information about an article of clothing and buy it online if they like it. Fashion retailers JC Penny and French Connection UK have also adopted the technology.

"What we've basically done is take that video and make everything in it clickable," Lane said.

The link between fashion and clickable video is not an accident, he said. The idea came from company co-founder Tyler Cope's wife, who wanted to know where to buy the clothes worn by the characters of Sex and the City.

Linking the images online consumers see with shopping is not new to the online world.

U.S.-based is one the leaders in this area: the company allows users to bring up a picture of an object and then find products that look similar, allowing fashion-followers to try to match the styles of the world's entertainers and celebrities. The technology attracted enough interest that online search leader Google bought in August.

Overlay TV's technology is more tied to specific content, but Lane said he's seen research showing shoppers are more likely to spend time checking out a product if they can see what it looks like in a video instead of just a static picture.

As the cost of producing quality online video continues to drop, interactive video applications become more attractive. James Bowen, a professor at Ottawa University's Telfer School of Management, said interactivity is the future of electronic commerce.

"With the infrastructure in place, the number of applications is just exploding to provide that interactive capability," said Bowen.

With files from the CBC's Kate Porter