Shopping for clothes can be a frustrating experience – especially if you’re a woman. Sizes are seemingly arbitrary, with every store and every brand coming up with its own sizing system that makes an 8 in one brand a 12 in another. Even within one brand, it can be difficult to find the size that fits you, because everyone’s body is different – it’s hard to categorize everyone into one specific number.
That’s why startup Body Labs was so exciting when it launched. The company introduced a unique, patented body modeling system that took 3D scans of customers’ bodies and created avatars that could move, allowing the company to design clothing that perfectly fit each individual’s body in motion and at rest. It opened the door to a whole new system of clothes shopping, one in which clothes are made to fit you rather than you trying to fit into clothes.
This week, Body Labs announced that it has been acquired by Amazon. While not many details are available, reports have estimated that Amazon purchased the startup for somewhere between $50 million and $70 million.
Amazon is not new to 3D technology; a quick search will show that the site sells plenty of 3D printers and 3D printing supplies. The acquisition of Body Labs, however, indicates that the company may be interested in offering customized products – not something it’s been known for so far. It’s another example of the change that is happening across the retail world, as customers begin to demand, more and more, products that are made specifically for them rather than mass-produced.
Retailers have been taking notice of the trend, and have been turning to 3D printing and/or 3D scanning technology to cater to those needs. Lowe’s, for example, has begun offering customized products through an online 3D printing platform. Amazon’s acquisition of Body Labs shows that it too has taken notice of the desire for bespoke designs, and it will be interesting to see if other major retail corporations begin offering more options for customization, as well.
Body Labs’ technology goes beyond clothing, too. In May of this year the company introduced SOMA, a human-aware artificial intelligence system that uses 3D models of people for purposes such as app development and gaming. It’s possible that Amazon’s interest in the startup is less about selling customized apparel and more about leveraging the advanced technology that makes that apparel possible. In all likelihood, it’s both. Amazon does have a large stake in the fashion industry, and as we all know, the company is a big fan of artificial intelligence. It wouldn’t be a surprise to find that it has some big ideas for Body Labs’ technology.
Neither Body Labs nor Amazon have commented on the acquisition, and Body Labs’ website states that it cannot go into any detail at this time. Therefore, we can only speculate about what this acquisition will entail, about how Amazon plans to use Body Labs’ technology and how the companies will work together. More details will likely be forthcoming before long.
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