Something wonderful happened last week. Amazon launched “Made for You”, a service to provide cut-to-order clothing, as well as a tool to capture your body specifications via the Amazon app. But this isn’t about a well-fitting t-shirt. It’s about the next frontier of personal data collection. This consumer application is an indicator for not only the future of product personalization, but also virtual healthcare, gaming, fitness, and beyond. And it has implications on how consumers manage their privacy.
The tool creates a digital “body double” and enables people to order perfectly custom-fitted shirts for $25, made possible via Amazon’s 2017 acquisition of a company called Body Labs, who we featured in the first year of the podcast.
In the early days of Future Commerce, one of the ideas we explored in-depth was the future of personal body data and monitoring and how it would come to revolutionize life as we know it. In my 2017 article Your Body is a Dataland I wrote (a very early Insiders piece—no judgey) on the implications for clothing and fashion:
The end-game is perfectly tailored clothing for every individual. Because these clothes can only be manufactured post order placement, brands will either have to reset customer expectations on length of time for product delivery or make massive changes to the supply chain. These changes might include 3D knitting at scale, on-demand manufacturing, or last-mile manufacturing.
I went on to say:
This will likely have a profound effect on brands, designs, repairs, and clothing replenishment. If every piece of clothing fits every person perfectly (including cut and style), then purchasing decisions will be based on pattern, design, and quality of manufacturing and material. Manufacturers will likely have offerings for every tier. AI will be applied to patterns + body type + desired style to determine what looks best per consumer.
My third-eye recognition of the general-purpose application and customer desire for this type of technology predates our founding of Future Commerce. In 2016, we recorded our eighth episode of the podcast, which would become our seminal work on the topic of “Body Data” and how it would impact consumer health, consumer goods, and customer expectations.
We’ve continued to cover Body Data at length over the course of the podcast, including a prescient interview with Jon Cilley and William O’Farrell of Body Labs in March 2017. This recording took place just six months prior to their acquisition by Amazon. Last week’s launch of the $25 cut-and-sew made-to-order t-shirt brought their technology to the masses.
From Insiders in November of 2017:
Amazon acquired Body Labs in September 2017. Rumor has it Amazon is already running internal betas for perfect body sizing. It’s not hard to imagine that they’ll eventually have custom/personal clothing available on demand. With Amazon in the game, more “first moves” will be made, and other retailers will release offerings related to body data accelerating the process of adoption.
Just over 2 years later, Amazon’s Made for You was born.
Just the beginning
In the 2017 Insiders, I identified additional opportunities for application, such as gaming and fitness: some of which has proven out over the past year:
A logical positive consequence of this idea is hyper-gamification of health and fitness. If your [avatar] improves as you do, naturally you’ll become more competitive the more fit you become. Imagine competitive gamers as the most fit Americans because their games demand a level of health beyond the average American.
Peloton fulfills this prediction. No longer content to be an in-home brand, they’ve begun the process of vertical differentiation, creating a higher-end version of their in-home bike, Peloton+, and an app that allows for more full-body fitness, boot camp-style workouts, and yoga.
Now Peloton has acquired American exercise equipment manufacturer, Precor, for $420M. This allows them to acquire two new capabilities beyond manufacturing space and capacity: commercial contracts, and eCommerce marketplace capabilities.
We’re seeing more examples of investment in consumer health with Apple and Amazon investing in healthcare. “I think that the future of Apple is healthcare,” I said at the beginning of 2020. Jonathan Weiner, the co-founder of Shoptalk, agrees with me. In 2017, Jonathan went on to found HLTH, a nextgen conference and community focused on innovation in healthcare. In August 2020, HLTH hosted a panel on the possibilities of wearable technology to help detect illness. The scope of application for personal monitoring and wearables as a tool for healthcare seems absolutely massive.
From the same November 2017 piece:
Virtual health and personal monitoring could allow for a more tiered healthcare system with better systems of escalation ultimately providing better preventive care and emergency life-saving measures. It would save money and give more people access to healthcare worldwide…
Many of these devices will double as for data collection beyond healthcare.
Personal health monitoring has made significant advances recently. Whoop, a popular wrist-based heart rate tracker that monitors activity and fitness recovery with scary accuracy, has been updated for COVID-times to detect variability in heart rate to detect fatigue, allowing it to spot the presence of a pre-symptomatic COVID patient.
Enterprise cannot live by data alone
Using a low-profile wristband, Halo does more than just track heart rate. It listens to the tone of your voice to sense your mood. It uses this for, we’re quite sure, totally-not-creepy-or-nefarious-purposes. If I were running the Amazon Ad Network, I’d want to target time-of-day ads with mood cohorts to try to deliver mood-enhancing products when they’re most needed. Did you just get creeped out?
We’re notoriously bad at managing and protecting our personal data and companies (including, maybe especially, brands and retailers) are not great about protecting our data, either. Our memories are short, apparently. This past week, Equifax’s stock hit an all-time high, just 3 years after its historic data breach.
Everyone in this world needs to own their data—or really they need to take ownership of their data. I’ve been meaning to address this for over two years and well, better late than never. I understand Benedict was speaking of your digital data footprint, but I’d like to expand this beyond the scope of his intended conversation.
In 2020, it’s estimated that on average people created 1.7mbs of data every second. If you’re digitally-engaged, you’re probably generating significantly more. And we’re rapidly expanding that footprint, with the total digital world making up 4.4 zettabytes in 2019 and likely 44 zettabytes at years’ end.
Personal data revolution
In the future, people will have significantly more personal data than they do now. That’s how trendlines work. Not just body data—real-time data about everything in their lives: how often we use things, wear and tear, gut microbiota, blood cell count, interactions with other people, home inventory, mood, movement, and so so much more. In the future, I think many people will generate more personal data over the course of a single day than they generated in all of 2020.
At this level of personal data points, we will govern our own virtual private internets, each with our own system of data that will need to relate to itself in terms of significance, priority, context, assumptions, new information, and evolution over time. And each of our systems will have deep connections to those around us whose lives and interactions are causing much of our data to be generated.
Permissioning is going to be essential. We’ll have to deal with data integrity and compatibility, program integrations and APIs, accounting systems, and more.
Starting to sound like anything familiar? Enterprise software, anyone? I’m already feeling the pain—what I put out, what comes in, how to optimize, understanding what I’m missing—and I’m ready to pay someone to implement my system:
- I need a personal Systems Integrator to make all my systems work together.
- I need a personal professional services company that can help me identify and achieve my personal KPIs for the year.
- I need a personal marketing agency that can help me assert my identity and remain authentic.
- I need a product development company to help me organize and realize my ideas.
- I need a personal PR agency that can help me be thoughtful and wise about what I say and when I say it.
- I need a personal logistics and supply chain system to help me identify how to best manage everything.
Every household is becoming a digital kingdom. These kingdoms will need toolsets to manage, defend, and grow themselves. Data is both raw material and treasure. Software is the plow, walls, and weapon.
We need to train ourselves and our children now to be prepared for what’s ahead. Taking ownership of your data requires becoming skilled with the tools you have to keep it safe and to use it to your advantage. Because make no mistake—those that manage their data well will have a leg up by the end of this decade.
If your 2020 body is a dataland, your 2030 body will need a team to manage and tune the output.