Amazon is building trendy artificial intelligence tools that can identify the latest fashion craze.
MIT’s Technology Review reports that Amazon teams across the world are working on several tools to analyze social media posts with limited information, like a a few labels, and deduce which looks are stylish and which aren’t. That information could then be used as Amazon decides which brands to push on its online marketplace and to quickly replicate trendy pieces for its in-house brands.
Amazon recently held a workshop with academic professors on the intersection of machine learning and fashion, according to MIT Technology Review, where these details were revealed.
It’s no surprise that Amazon is turning to AI as a way to stand out in a crowded industry. The thought process is reminiscent of Amazon Go, the company’s convenience store concept that uses similar technology to self-driving cars to eliminate the checkout line bottleneck.
But, at least for now, there are some limitations to AI-powered fashion design. Several academic researchers surveyed by MIT Technology Review think it will be a long time before a machine can create a fashion trend. So for now, human designers should still lead the way, with AI serving as more of an identifier of what’s in and a way to speed up production.
Amazon has undertaken a multi-faceted fashion push in the last few years. An inflection point came last year, when the company began rolling out a series of in-house clothing brands. In June, Amazon announced a new service called Prime Wardrobe that lets online shoppers select and ship a box of clothes, shoes and accessories to their homes to try them on before buying.
Much of its fashion push has been backed by technological innovation. For the past few months, Amazon has been secretly building a team that helps customers find clothes that fit perfectly, and it recently won a patent for “on-demand apparel manufacturing,” in which machines only start snipping and stitching once an order has been placed.
In addition to finding ways to more efficiently make and help customers find clothes, Amazon has also built out a virtual fashion assistant in the Alexa-powered Echo Look. The device lets people use their voice to take full-length pictures and videos of themselves and can provide fashion recommendations with a “Style Check” service that uses machine learning algorithms and advice from fashion specialists.
Amazon’s in-house push, as well as its status as a dominant online retailer are likely to make it a big player in fashion and apparel for years to come. Some analysts even predict that Amazon will ascend to the top of the fragmented apparel market this year, and that the company will open up a sizable lead over traditional department stores.