Home / Gaming / Amazon has acquired 3D body model startup, Body Labs, for $50M-$70M

Amazon has acquired 3D body model startup, Body Labs, for $50M-$70M

TechCrunch has learned that Amazon has acquired Body Labs, a company with a stated aim of creating true-to-life 3D body models to support various b2b software applications — such as virtually trying on clothes or photorealistic avatars for gaming.

One source suggested the price-tag Amazon paid for Body Labs could be $100M+. However a second well-placed source suggested it’s closer to $70M than $100M — so we’re pegging it at between $50M and $70M.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on the acquisition.

New York based Body Labs was founded in March 2013, according to CrunchBase, and had raised more than $10M across two investment rounds — closing an $8M Series A in November 2015.

The company says its AI, computer vision, and body modeling expertise stems from research started at Brown University and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems.

Co-founder and CEO Bill O’Farrell lists a number of prior exits in his Body Labs’ biog: namely SpeechWorks, acquired by Nuance; CoSA acquired by Adobe; and OpenAir acquired by Netsuite. Apparently he can now chalk off a fourth.

At the time of writing Body Labs had not responded to requests for comment.

The company’s social media accounts have been quiet since August, which may indicate the deal closed recently.

Modeling the human body

Video demos on Body Labs’ website show its tech being used to augment a human with digital content as the person moves around by cladding them in a full-body gaming avatar ‘suit’ or adding boxing gloves and bunny slippers to a dancing man.

Body Labs also says its “SOMA Shape API” can be used to “accurately predict and measure the 3D shape of your customers using just a single image”, suggesting this can power “custom apparel” or be used by fashion ecommerce retailers wanting to offer sizing recommendations.

The company also suggests additional uses-cases for its ‘fat and all’ 3D body modeling tech in health and fitness tracking, and even equipment design and manufacturing.

In a video from 2015, O’Farrell suggests highly accurate 3D body scans will enable “the body itself [to] be delivered as the platform and around which goods and services are designed, manufactured, bought and sold, recommended.”

It’s not clear exactly what Amazon intends to do with Body Labs but there are plenty of potential use-cases that mesh with and could extend its existing business interests if the startup has the tech chops to deliver accurate 3D body models at scale.

For example, as well as selling other brands’ clothes via its ecommerce marketplace, Amazon has been ramping up its own fashion business in recent years, expanding and growing its private label fashion brands.

Being able to offer custom fit could give Amazon’s private label fashion brands an edge, even as improving sizing predictions generally for Amazon shoppers could help drive clothes shopping across its platform and help shrink returns from clothes that don’t fit.

A recent Amazon Prime member perk offers free returns for a try-before-you-buy clothes service called Amazon Wardrobe. And the service would clearly be cheaper for Amazon to run if fewer people returned fewer items of clothes.

CEO Jeff Bezos has long listed fashion as one of two key areas he sees underpinning his sizable ambitions for Amazon’s ecommerce empire (food being the other).