Retail giant, Amazon is reportedly scanning the bodies of a group of volunteer customers as part of a new data collection project. Volunteers for the project have been asked to come into the Amazon New York office twice a month for 20 weeks so Amazon can begin to better understand “how bodies change shape over time”.
Volunteers are reportedly being compensated with Amazon gift cards up to $250. The project seems to be connected to Amazon's recent acquisition of computer vision startup Body Labs.
Body scanning will minimize returns
Amazon has used the company’s technology to build a body scanning team within the company. The theory is that if Amazon knows your exact proportions it can increase your success of shopping online for clothes. This, in turn, would reduce the number of returns which Amazon, of course, wants to promote.
Amazon is currently recruiting for its body scanning team. The Wall Street Journal reports the team will create “statistical 3D models of human bodies, which it will then match images and videos of people via deep-learning algorithms and other tactics."
It is thought the that if customers upload images of themselves the software can make clothing suggestions based on your personal data. This goes beyond sizing charts and looks at smaller details such as hip to leg width ratio etc. Body Labs says its “SOMA Shape API” can be used to “accurately predict and measure the 3D shape of your customers using just a single image.”
Echo Look improves your selfie game
In April last year, Amazon released The Echo Look, essentially the same digital virtual assistant as the Amazon Echo but with a fashion focus. The Echo Look allows its users to take full body photos and videos.
The photos can be manipulated with filters and adjustments before being shared on social media. Or you can initiate the app called Style Check, which offers you a second opinion on your fashion choices.
The app rates your outfits and offers suggestions using machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists. Amazon has invested a lot of time into developing itself as a clothing retailer of late.
Rather than just acting as a marketplace for existing brands, Amazon has created more than 50 in-house labels and is said to be outselling Macy's.
Amazon wants to be your online shopping destination
It has also made headway into the emerging 'shop and return' style of online clothes shopping. Amazon Prime subscribers can choose several pieces of clothing for delivery all at once and then return the pieces that don't fit well for free.
It seems logical that if Amazon had its body scanning technology in place these customers would be more likely to find the perfect fit the first time around. Professor Susan Ashdown of Cornell University told the Wall Street Journal that Amazon is ambitious, saying body scanning “much more complicated than anyone imagines. How you hold your shoulders, the angle of your hips — everything feeds into how well your clothes fit you.”
However, if Amazon does manage to design a system that allows online clothes shopping to get the results that trying clothes on in a store can do, they will again leap ahead as leaders in the online retail world.