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eBay Fashion iPhone app's augmented reality lets you try on before you buy

eBay has updated its eBay Fashion app with a new 'See It On' feature that allows you to see how sunglasses will look on your face before you place a bid on them.

After the genius that is WordLens, augmented reality is a step closer to revolutionising the way we use our mobiles to interact with the world. eBay is the latest company to make use of AR in an interesting way.

The auction service has updated its spin-off iPhone app eBay Fashion with a new feature called See It On, which lets you virtually try on sunglasses before bidding on them.

How? You'll need an iPhone 4 or latest-generation iPod touch, as it involves taking a photo of yourself using the front-facing camera. Dotted lines on-screen show where to line your eyes up to make it work.

You then choose a style (Aviator, Fashion, Sport, Novelty or Rimless), a frame colour and a lens gradient, before holding your iPhone in front of your face again to see the virtual glasses hover in (hopefully) the right position. We've been playing with it, and it works fairly well, after a spot of wiggling.

Naturally, See It On is all about getting you to spend money, so at this point you tap a Shop button to see actual eBay listings matching your chosen glasses, to bid there and then.

It's a niche feature -- how often do you buy sunglasses? -- but a clever one. The free eBay Fashion app also helps you find other clothing bargains, complete with a virtual closet to store favourite finds. It's aimed at both men and women, by the way.

eBay's mobile apps are hugely popular -- they've notched up 30 million downloads, and people spent $2bn on items via eBay's mobile service in 2010. AR sunglasses might not boost that number hugely in 2011, but it's good to see eBay experimenting with new mobile tech nonetheless.