Amazon’s pit of consumer information just keeps getting deeper. It knows your shopping habits, personal and financial information, hears everything you say via Alexa and wants to recognize your emotional state.
Oh, but there’s more Amazon wants from you. Now, the company is offering a $25 gift card to anyone who agrees to undergo a 3D body scan.
Amazon says the information gathered from the body scan will be used for “internal research” and not marketing.
The type of personal information Amazon is gathering
The body scan is part of a 30-minute process that includes gathering such information as height and weight. Photos and videos also will be taken.
Volunteers will actually undergo two body scans. The first will scan a person in their everyday clothing. In the second scan, the volunteer wears form-fitting clothing — at least the men do. For women, bikinis and form-fitting shorts and sports bra are preferred.
Volunteers must agree to Amazon’s privacy notice. On the sign-up form, Amazon states, “Participants’ comments and data will be used exclusively for internal product research and not for marketing purposes.”
How Amazon might use body scan information
Amazon is conducting body scans through Body Labs, a 3D imaging company that Amazon acquired in 2017. While Amazon isn’t discussing why it is doing body scans, its use of Body Labs is a major clue.
Before being acquired by Amazon, Body Labs was working with clothing brands. Body Labs says its artificial intelligence (AI) not only creates a 3D model of a person, but also can extrapolate clothing characteristics such as wrinkles.
By adding motion to 3D images, the company can see how certain fabrics move and fit.
In recent years, Amazon has entered the clothing market in a big way and even has an Amazon brand. In March, Core Research found that Amazon is the most-shopped apparel retailer in the U.S., up from second place in 2018. Amazon actually has surpassed Walmart and Target as the top place where online shoppers buy clothing.
The report also found that Amazon’s private-label collections as a group rank fourth as the most purchased clothing or footwear brand. One in six Amazon shoppers said they had bought a piece of Amazon private-label apparel in the past 12 months.
While it’s likely that Amazon will use the 3D body scans to design clothing, there is distrust among civil liberties organizations such as the ACLU.
The ACLU is concerned because Amazon has sold its facial recognition technology, Rekognition, to local law enforcement and the FBI. The organization warned that the facial recognition tool is unreliable and shows a bias against people on color.
To prove its point, last year the ACLU used Rekognition to compare photos of members of Congress with criminal mugshots. The ACLU found more than two-dozen false positives.
Of the 28 false positives, six of the images were those from the Congressional Black Caucus. Even though people of color only comprise around 20% of Congress, they made up more than 40% of the false positives.