Amazon wants to use AI to recommend you clothing — again

Amazon wants to use AI to recommend you clothing — again

StyleSnap is Amazon’s latest attempt to use machine learning to peddle you fashion.

How it works: Announced at Amazon’s AI and robotics conference re:MARS 2019, the tool lets you upload photos and screenshots of clothes and accessories you like. It then uses machine-learning algorithms to match them to similar items on Amazon. Accredited “influencers” for Amazon are encouraged to get their followers on social media to use StyleSnap to take a screenshot of outfits they’ve modeled. The influencer will then earn commission on any subsequent sales.

The big picture: It’s the company’s latest crack at one of the few areas it has yet to dominate in retail. Last year, it took a different tack with the launch of a stylist assistant built into the Echo Look camera. The assistant compared two photos of you wearing different outfits and selected which looked better based on fit, color combination, and current fashion trends. But reviewers found the assistant’s logic lacking, and the product never took off.

Technical difficulties: The assistant had a tougher task: it required generating subjective opinions with relatively simple logic to back it up. With StyleSnap, Amazon may have more luck. It leans back on the biggest strength of machine learning, pattern-matching in images, to provide a service with more apparent value.

Author

Karen HaoKaren Hao is the artificial intelligence reporter for MIT Technology Review. In particular she covers the ethics and social impact of the technology as well as its applications for social good. She also writes the AI newsletter, the Algorithm, which thoughtfully examines the field’s latest news and research. Prior to joining the publication, she was a reporter and data scientist at Quartz and an application engineer at the first startup to spin out of Google X.

ImageScreenshot/Amazon

Author

Karen HaoKaren Hao is the artificial intelligence reporter for MIT Technology Review. In particular she covers the ethics and social impact of the technology as well as its applications for social good. She also writes the AI newsletter, the Algorithm, which thoughtfully examines the field’s latest news and research. Prior to joining the publication, she was a reporter and data scientist at Quartz and an application engineer at the first startup to spin out of Google X.

ImageScreenshot/Amazon