Amazon wants to improve sizing, and so, the eCommerce retailer is studying different body types.
More specifically, Amazon is inviting people to visit a New York City office building once every other week for 20 weeks to track small changes and variations in their measurements over time. Participants will be given Amazon gift cards worth as much as $250 for their help, according to news from The Wall Street Journal.
“We are interested in understanding how bodies change shape over time,” the survey read. The invite comes from Amazon’s new 3-D body scanning unit, an outgrowth of Body Labs, a computer vision startup acquired by Amazon last year.
Apparel retail is heating up, and the ability to offer consumers an off-the-rack perfectly fitting pair of jeans is a valuable commodity. Not only does it mean more buys; it also means fewer returns.
According to job postings for Amazon’s 3-D body unit, Amazon is currently in the process of designing statistical models for human body shapes. Those models, paired with deep-learning algorithms, will then be matched to images and videos of actual humans. According to the eCommerce giant, that tech will have a “wide range of commercial applications” for customers.
Amazon is studying its participants to discover the natural history of their body shapes, inquiring about fitness levels over the last year, fitness goals, planned weight loss and any other major changes that might influence a person’s shape.
Will it work?
Some experts have their doubts.
Susan Ashdown, a professor at Cornell University who has studied clothing sizing and fit for 35 years and body-scanning technology since 2000, believes improvements have been made, but noted that it’s incredibly hard work to undertake due to all of the variables that influence fit in clothing.
“It’s much more complicated than anyone imagines,” she said, citing the different types of material, plus the huge variety of body shapes and sizes combined with different postures. “How you hold your shoulders, the angle of your hips — everything feeds into how well your clothes fit you. Getting from that to a well-fitting piece of clothing is a huge leap.”