Amazon buys Body Labs for around $70 million, report claims

Amazon has bought a firm dedicated to creating lifelike 3D models of bodies, which can be used for everything from clothing recommendations to creating detailed AR game avatars.

The acquisition has been confirmed on Body Labs’ website, and Alphr has reached out to Amazon for further details. According to TechCrunch, the online retail giant looks to have paid around $70 million (£53 million) for the startup.

Body Labs specialises in artificial intelligence and computer vision applications in modelling the human body. One of the most obvious applications as far as Amazon is concerned is the potential for it to be used to create virtual changing rooms, or generate recommend items based on body shape. A video demo on Body Labs’ website shows its “SOMA” system being used to upload a photo and connects users to their “shape doppelgangers” on Instagram.

The biog of CEO and co-founder Bill O’Farrell lists previous ventures including SpeechWorks, which was acquired by Nuance, and CoSA, which was acquired by Adobe. In a video from 2016 he talks about the potential for Body Labs’ software to be used by clothing designers as well as retailers, so it’s also possible that Amazon is also interested in this angle.

“In order to be a $200bn company we’ve got to learn how to sell clothes and food,” CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly said in 2007. It already bought Whole Foods, so the next step could be an attention to fashion.

Another potential application could be in Amazon’s smart speaker range. The company recently launched a new batch of Echo devices, and it may be the case that Amazon wants to do for body recognition what it has been doing for voice recognition. Considering other companies like Apple are pushing facial recognition, Amazon may be thinking along similar lines for future home hardware.  

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