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e-commerce Editor's pick Retail Startups technology

Amazon exploring the future of sizing with 3D body scanning trial

Body Labs 3D scan
Body Labs 3D scan

Amazon is currently inviting people to have their bodies 3D scanned at its NYC offices, hinting at the e-commerce giant’s future plans of entering the virtual try-on and personalized fit space.

According to The Wall Street Journal, participants are being asked to return every two weeks to have their bodies scanned over the course of 20 weeks. They are also being asked to answer a series of fitness and health questions, and complete an online survey that determines weight-related loss and goals in the past year. The survey reads: “We are interested in understanding how bodies change shape over time.”

The project comes from Amazon’s new 3D body scanning unit, and is assumed to tie to a broader aim of improving the fit of clothing sold online – one of the industry’s greatest challenges. It comes after Amazon paid a reported $100m+ to acquire Body Labs, a startup that creates 3D body models to support B2B software applications, back in October 2017.

At the time TechCrunch reported that Body Labs’ website, which is currently down, demonstrated how its API could be used to “accurately predict and measure the 3D shape of your customers using just a single image”, which in turn could be used to power custom apparel or be used by fashion e-commerce retailers.

Over the past couple of years Amazon has been making aggressive moves towards the fashion category, both from a hardware, service and merchandise perspective.

In April 2017, it released the Echo Look, a device that uses a camera to help users keep track of their outfits and receive style advice. Its try-before-you-buy Prime Wardrobe service, launched last summer, is also now open to consumers beyond the Prime membership and is due to launch imminently.

The retailer has so far developed over 50 in-house apparel labels for women, men and children, showing that there is virtually no corner of the apparel industry that it doesn’t have covered.

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ICYMI: Industry faces its #MeToo moment, tech hits Olympics, Vogue and Amazon Echo Look

Tom Ford - ICYMI #metoo metoo fashion week
Tom Ford

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • New York Fashion Week: industry faces its #MeToo moment [TheGuardian]
  • Can an app launch the fashion world’s #metoo reckoning? [Vanity Fair]
  • Olympic clothing designers try to beat the cold with technology [Scientific American]
  • Vogue and GQ will test content inside Amazon’s Echo Look [Digiday]
  • Can Christian Louboutin trademark red soles? An EU court says no [NY Times]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Intel unveils smart glasses that you might want to wear [Engadget]
  • Walmart’s tech incubator buys VR startup Spatialand [Reuters]
  • Opinion: Blockchain technology will make true luxury more lucrative [JingDaily]
  • JD.com and Fung align for AI development [RetailDive]
  • Asics Ventures invests in conductivity textiles [FashionUnited]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Eileen Fisher, Columbus Consulting reveal details for sustainable design plan [WWD]
  • Primark publishes global supplier map showing all of its factories [TheIndustry]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Target CEO: Our personal shoppers will deliver to ‘your kitchen table’ [CNBC]
  • Macy’s plans pop-ups to amplify discovery [RetailDive]
  • Malls are dying, but things remembered is still hanging on [Racked]
  • Tips from the e-commerce giant Zalando [Maize]
MARKETING
  • Benjamin Millepied directs Ansel Elgort and Kate Mara in a mesmerizing film for Rag & Bone [CreativityOnline]
  • Nike rolls out NikePlus membership benefits [WWD]
  • Asics personal trainers will kick your butt as you use its fitness app [CreativityOnline]
SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Instagram entices brands with new shopping-enabled ads [TheDrum]
  • Pinterest sees 600 million visual searches every month [VentureBeat]
  • Swarovski and KiraKira+ launch fashion week ‘brilliance’ filter [WWD]
PRODUCT
  • UA HOVR, ushering in a new chapter of sneaker tech innovation [FashNerd]
BUSINESS
  • Canada Goose craze continues as shoppers flock to new stores [BoF]
  • British designer Misha Nonoo is rewriting fashion’s playbook [FastCompany]
  • The cautionary tale of H&M and digital disruption [BoF]
  • LVMH Luxury Ventures backs Stadium Goods [WWD]
  • Tapestry shares rise after earnings beat expectations [BoF]
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e-commerce Editor's pick technology

Amazon steps into the fashion selfie game with Echo Look device

The new Amazon Echo Look
The new Amazon Echo Look

Amazon is expanding AI assistant Alexa’s capabilities with a new standalone selfie camera, designed to give users fashion tips and advice on what to wear.

Echo Look, as the device is called, follows in the footsteps of the main Amazon Echo voice-controlled gadget, of which more than 10 million have reportedly sold.

This new hands-free camera version offers many of the same functionalities as the original, but also comes with four LED lights, a depth-sensing system and a background blurring effect, all in a bid to give users the perfect full-length shot of what they’re wearing. It also takes videos and can automatically share such looks on your own or a friend’s phone.


More than just being a means of seeing what you look like however, the device also comes with a service called “Style Check”, which uses machine learning to compare different outfits and advise on the best choice based on trends and what flatters you.

The write-up reads: “Style Check keeps your look on point using advanced machine-learning algorithms and advice from fashion specialists. Submit two photos for a second opinion on which outfit looks best on you based on fit, colour, styling and current trends.”

As with most AI, the intention is that the service gets smarter the more people use it. It additionally will help users create a personal look book by saving all their previous outfits – what they wore and when.

Amazon's Echo Look can give outfit advice through its Style Check feature
Amazon’s Echo Look can give outfit advice through its Style Check feature

It comes of course at a time when Amazon is increasingly trying to shift into the fashion space. As Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation at e-commerce solutions provider, Salmon, comments: “It doesn’t take too much imagination to realise that this in turn will enable Amazon to promote products sold through its platform, and even its own clothing ranges – thereby locking customers into a relationship with Amazon. Existing retailers need to be aware of Amazon’s aggressive horizontal expansion and its innovative invention of new routes to market. While many retailers are still struggling with establishing omnichannel strategies, Amazon is taking omnichannel innovations to the next level.”

Voice is one particular area that will continue to see growth in terms of how consumers discover product too. According to Mary Meeker of KPCB, half of all web searches will use voice or image search rather than text by 2020. “More efficient and often more convenient than typing, voice-based interfaces are ramping quickly and creating a new paradigm for human-computer interaction,” she said last year.

The Echo Look device retails for $199.99, though is not yet available to the public.