Internet shopping looks set to enter a new era with a new software that enables consumers to use a mouse to “feel” the textures of different fabrics through their computer screens.

The program, which uses a series of interactive virtual-reality animations to mimic the movement of various fabrics, was devised by Nicola Davison at Nottingham Trent University, central England.

Davison, who gained a master’s degree in fashion and textiles, is convinced it will help slash the number of online shopping returns, which currently stands at almost 40 percent.

Called “Click 2 Touch”, the software is expected to be available within a year after Davison, who is now in talks with retailers, won a research development grant from the British government’s trade and industry department.

“The Internet only appeals to two of our five senses – sight and sound – but clothing requires the sense of touch,” Davison told Britain’s domestic Press Association news agency.

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