Amazon has acquired Body Labs, a developer of 3D body modeling technology for an estimated price of at least $50 million, according to TechCrunch, which first reported the news. Some estimates put Body Lab's price tag as high as $100 million, according to the report.
Body Labs confirmed the acquisition with a brief statement on its website that deferred to Amazon for further information. Amazon declined to discuss its plans for Body Labs when contacted by Retail Dive.
The company uses artificial intelligence technology that understands the 3D body shape and motion of people from photos or videos to create true-to-life 3D body models that yield a more accurate fit, according to TechCrunch.
Body Labs has some pretty interesting technology that can be used for a number of different applications in different industries, including gaming and retail. Intel Capital was an early stage investor and led an $8 million round of Series A funding in 2015. "For the first time in human history, our technology makes it possible to automatically, accurately and cost-effectively deliver human shape as a digital platform," Bill O'Farrell, co-founder and CEO of Body Labs said in a statement at the time. "Forward-looking companies can now confidently design and deliver products and services that are specifically suited for their customers' particular body shapes. Mass customization around human body shape is fast becoming a reality, and we are playing a vital role in how goods and services are designed, manufactured, bought, sold and recommended."
Now the technology belongs to Amazon and is destined to focus on retail e-commerce and apparel-fitting applications.
We don’t yet now what exactly Amazon is going to do with Body Labs’ technology, but it sounds like a good fit (pun attended) with Amazon's Echo Look. The technology potentially could be used to make a 3D model of a shopper's body that could be consulted by the Echo Look to help make recommendations. Body scans stored with customer histories also could be used in many ways across Amazon — an Echo device and the Alexa virtual assistant would merely be the interface.
The hurdle that Amazon would need to overcome is how to allow users to scan their bodies. Would they need to visit an Amazon brick-and-mortar store and step into a life-size scanning machine, or could the technology be converted into a portable kit of some kind?
In any case, Amazon’s leveraging of this technology will be all about providing increasingly greater levels of personalization. There are a lot of details that customers can provide retailers today about preferences and how previously purchased apparel has fit them, but an individual, personal body scan has the potential to be the ultimate arbiter of what fits and what doesn’t — what looks great and what might not.
3D scanning, rendering and modeling technologies are becoming highly valued in retail. Retailers such as Lowe's have invested in creating vast 3D image libraries and ultra-realistic 3D is seen as providing a competitive edge. For the most part, we have seen the technology put to use online and in-app by home decor and home improvement retailers, but Amazon actually won't be the first to use it for apparel (assuming that's what it has in mind.) Adidas has used the technology to some degree and companies like Fit3D have pitched retailers on its merits. Now, it's Amazon's turn.