If you haven’t heard the news yet, we’re breaking it to you. Amazon just acquired another startup, and this time, it’s the 3D body modeling company, Body Labs!
Apparently, online shopping and tech giant Amazon is expanding its artificial intelligence territory. This time, after introducing its new series of Alexa-powered devices last week, the company is diving into the world of 3D body modeling with the acquisition of Body Labs–perhaps to give Alexa a physical representation?
According to a report from TechCrunch, the deal cost Amazon only around $50 million to $70 million USD. However, one source of the tech website said that Amazon originally paid over $100 million USD. The figures are yet to be confirmed by representatives from either of the two companies.
So, what’s with Body Labs? And, what is 3D body modeling?#Amazon acquires #BodyLabs and its human-aware 3D body modeling system!Click To Tweet
Body Labs and its 3D Body Modeling System
Body Labs was the maker of the human-aware AI dubbed as SOMA. The New York-based company was founded in 2013 and was able to raise around $10 million USD in a two-round funding event. $8 million USD of its total $10 million USD investment fund was acquired last year in a Series A funding led by Intel Capital.
What made this startup popular, and probably the reason Amazon bought it, was its AI-powered 3d body modeling system that could generate fully realistic 3D body scan. And, by ‘fully realistic,’ that means even wrinkles, black fats, and body curves are included.
In a blog published on the Body Labs website in June of this year, Jon Cilley, Vice President of Marketing and Chief Evangelist at Body Labs, wrote:
“With SOMA, we look to enable brands and developers to easily capture 3D human shape and motion to power a range of applications.”
Apparently, Body Labs’ primary vision was to be a repository of information about the human body using a set of APIs, called BodyKit, that would enable developers to use the AI technology in developing different applications. The company wanted to help apparel retailers make better size recommendations to their customers to lower the number of returns.
Aside from Amazon’s growing interest in AI, experts believe that the acquisition of Body Labs was part of the shopping company’s ambition to conquer the fashion scene. It should be noted that the e-commerce giant was able to launch nine fashion brands just this year.
If that is the case, Body Labs’ AI-powered 3D body modeling system could help enhance Amazon’s exiting AI-powered devices such as the Echo Look which is known for its fashion recommendation capabilities, and the company’s new service called Amazon Wardrobe which enables Prime members to fit apparels before purchasing them.
Aside from reinventing the way apparels are purchased online, SOMA could also be used by game developers to detect 3D motion and shape referencing user videos to make video games, immersive augmented reality, and virtual experiences more interactive.
Furthermore, 3D body modeling could be utilized to predict and detect pedestrian actions using conventional cameras. Car manufacturers are said to be using the SOMA technology “to process more detail about pedestrians, power gesture-based in-car entertainment system, and fuel motion-based predictive analytics to improve safety.”
If those are not enough, SOMA could also aid developers in creating an AI assistant that uses body commands and gestures instead of controllers or voice prompts.
Currently, it’s not clear what Amazon plans to do with the 3D body modeling technology it acquired. With all its potential benefits, it is apparent that we might be seeing it in use when purchasing apparels on the Amazon site.
If not, another area of interest would probably be in gaming, especially now that AR and VR games are gaining steady popularity. But, it’s more likely to be showcased by Amazon in its Alexa devices now that the company made it clear that it plans to stay at the top of the smart home market and visual communication space.