TechCrunch has learned that Amazon has acquired Body Labs, a company with a stated aim of creating true-to-life 3D body models to support various b2b software applications — such as virtually trying on clothes or photorealistic avatars for gaming.
Body Labs also says its “SOMA Shape API” can be used to “accurately predict and measure the 3D shape of your customers using just a single image”, suggesting this can power “custom apparel” or be used by fashion ecommerce retailers wanting to offer sizing recommendations.
However one key consideration here, in the specific case of Body Labs, is it’s not clear exactly what core technology the company is using for generating accurate 3D scans.
In some of its video demos Body Labs can be seen using person-sized scanners to generate highly accurate body models — a technology that clearly does not scale for the kind of massive consumer purposes Amazon would be after. Though it also claims to be able to extrapolate body models from “everyday photos or videos”.
One of its co-founders, and also its science advisor, Dr Michael Black, is a computer vision expert who has worked on modeling realistic 3D human avatars by extrapolating pose data from photos — and that kind of approach, if it proves robust enough, would offer a more viable route for Amazon to scale viable body models to millions of consumers.
So it’s also possible the Body Labs acquisition is mostly an acquihire for Amazon, aimed at picking up talent and expertise for handling the data it’s hoping to gather via its Echo Look device which — notably — contains an on-board depth sensor so could be used to extract 3D data on body form via users’ style selfies.