Amazon thinks the future of shopping for and trying on clothes is virtual, so it's patented a technology that essentially would let a person try on digital clothes in front of an advanced mirror.
The retail company's patent describes the mirror as partially reflective and partially transmissive, with a mix of displays, cameras, and projectors to form the resulting mixed reality-like image.
Try On Virtual Clothes With Amazon's Mirror
The mirror scans the environment and creates its own virtual version of it and then tries to determine facial features of the user so it knows what objects are to be displayed as a reflection. Once this is finished, it then lays different virtual clothes on top of the user, enabling them to see how the chosen piece of clothing would look like in a real-world setting.
It's an ingenious concept, and one has to wonder why something like this isn't a thing yet. Perhaps existing technology is insufficient to make it a reality, but suppose this does becomes a real product, it's easy to see shopping malls and clothing stores as the first ones to adopt it.
Don't Get Excited Yet
However, keep in mind that not all patents turn into products. Some companies usually file them as a preemptive measure to make sure other companies refrain from copying or infringing on their idea.
There's evidence, though, that Amazon is serious about making this happen. First, it acquired Body Labs last year, a company dabbling in artificial intelligence software that once teased 3D models of human bodies that can be dressed up in virtual outfits. Also, there's already a product in Amazon's Echo line focused on fashion: the Echo Look, which takes floor-length photos of the user to give them fashion advice.
The technology described in the patent feels like a logical extension of the Echo Look, and with Body Labs in its own turf, Amazon might very well be working on this internally. Even so, there's no word if it intends to develop the technology into a working product.
More importantly, the "smart mirror" could be integrated into Amazon's online retail network so that users can more easily shop from a bunch of different clothing outlets and companies. It might even build an entire database of virtual clothes and offer companies tools to create digital clones of their clothing line.
Amazon has worked tirelessly for its retail arm to become a global brand, and it's already the biggest online clothing seller in the United States. Surely, offering this kind of technology will give it many benefits not just in the retail space, but in the fashion industry as well.