UPDATE: February 25, 2019: StyleHacks (Epytom) confirmed in an email to Retail Dive that the company will launch AI-powered conversation shopping in April 2019.
StyleHacks, a voice-activated virtual fashion assistant tool formerly dubbed Maison Me from artificial intelligence technology company Epytom, is advancing from its iteration of helping people decide what to pick out of their closet based on the weather and their style preferences, according to an update Thursday on the Google Developers blog.
That earlier capability, the "StyleHacks" Action for phones and Smart Displays, launched in December 2018 on mobile smartphones and tablets through Google Assistant and an iOS app, according to the post. In the next few months, users will also be able to shop for new clothes, Google Developers said.
Epytom, which received funding from the Google Assistant investment fund, rolled out StyleHacks through the Google Home Hub late last year. The service was originally available as a messaging chatbot through Facebook, but has since evolved to leverage a voice-based "interface and personalized AI-powered recommendations."
StyleHacks bears some similarity to what Amazon has been trying to do with the Echo Look, which launched in the first half of 2017. The device was available on an invitation-only basis for more than a year before it became generally available.
Amazon also launched an “Outfit Compare” mobile app feature around the same time as the Echo Look that boasted that it provided input from Amazon stylists and fashion experts to advise users on outfits they should wear, based on their own photos.
It makes sense, then, for Epytom and Google to broaden the appeal of StyleHacks by expanding its abilities and getting them out to as many devices as possible. The fashion segment arguably has become a key battlefield in the retail sector’s move to greater personalization. Apps offer a direct path to achieving that by building trust with consumers that ultimately could influence what they buy and from whom.