Amazon collects body type data by inviting volunteers to be scanned, wallpaper and photographed. As seen by Mashable the company runs a study to "learn about diversity among body forms" that offers a $ 25 gift certificate for a 30-minute deal in New York. Participants will take a survey and consent to 3D scans (plus photos and videos) of their body – first in their daily attire, then in "formfitting" clothing.
The study is run by Amazon Body Labs, which was originally started as Amazon acquired in 2017. Body Labs produced detailed 3D body models for shopping and games; as Mashable notes, it grew out of an attempt to identify criminals with computer engineering. And Amazon has collected these kinds of body data before. The Wall Street Journal reported a lengthy study in 201
Here, Amazon asks for a much lesser commitment during a shorter period: It takes participants through June 30 at one of two New York City sites. The company promises that it will use the data "solely for internal product research and not for marketing purposes." It also promises to deliver the molded clothes that volunteers will wear – a bikini is "preferred" for women, although they can also wear shorts and sports bra.
Amazon does not specify the exact type of research, but it is likely interested in using body scanning tech for products such as Amazon Echo Look, a "style assistant" camera that takes pictures and analyzes them for fashion advice. For example, a home scan can let people almost try on clothes – something that online retailers have been trying to do for years.
The prospect of Amazon collecting detailed data on consumer organs is scary, but for now this is a rather limited study. If Amazon wants to use 3D scanning in commercial technology, gathering information on different body forms is incredibly important – it is far better than relying on a limited set of data points that could be done by race or gender. And there are lots of weirder, more invasive volunteer research guys elsewhere. But there is apparently a brief nod to how privacy rules can change Amazon's behavior: if you are from Illinois – a state known for its strong biometric protection measures – then there is no body scan (or gift card) for you.