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MIT Technology Review

Amazon wants to use AI to recommend you clothing — again

A screenshot of blue dresses with white polka dots on Amazon.A screenshot of blue dresses with white polka dots on Amazon.

StyleSnap is Amazon’s latest attempt to use machine learning to peddle 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 on the basis of 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 had to generate subjective opinions with relatively simple logic to back it up. With StyleSnap, Amazon may have more luck. It leans on machine learning’s biggest strength: pattern matching in images.

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