You may not want to buy the ShapeScale 3D body scanner unless you’re comfortable in your own skin. Using infrared depth sensors and a high-res camera, ShapeScale can create an amazingly accurate 3D image of your physique, from your bulging biceps to corpulent love handles. It’s now available for pre-order on the ShapeScale website for $499, and rest assured it’s been created for good, not evil.
Sure, the technology will give you an exacting view of all your fleshy flaws. It will also create a high-res 3D image of your butt. Unless you’re an Australian Instagram star, you may not have a lot of experience with, well… studying what's on the other side. So just know belfies are in the program.
But consider all the upsides. Because ShapeScale can measure your body parts within a millimeter of accuracy, it can show you exactly how your body responds to workouts over time. It can detail the exact girth measurements of your major muscles, obviating the need for tape measurements. It can show you a heat map that illustrates areas of muscle growth and flab reduction. And ShapeScale says the system can provide highly accurate data on body mass—similar to the accuracy of hydrostatic weighing, and within 95 percent accuracy of a DEXA scan.
But, remember, you will need to strip down to your skivvies. Or at least some Lululemon.
ShapeScale co-founder Alex Wayenberg gave me a demo in our offices. While the hardware is still in the prototype stage (and isn’t expected to ship until 2018), it’s still an impressive piece of kit with a flare for drama.
The system starts with the scale itself—and, yes, you actually stand on a scale with sensors that record body weight. But what makes ShapeScale special is the extruded aluminum scanning arm that’s topped off by an array of sensors and a camera. The scanning arm circles your entire body in about a minute, elevating and tilting its sensor array to capture every angle.
Watching it whiz around ShapeScale’s fitness model evoked something futuristic and robotic. It all made sense when Wayenberg said his company briefly considered whether the full-body scan could be executed by tiny drones. (Turns out a robotic arm made more sense.)
The depth sensors, similar to those found in the Microsoft Kinect, help produce a wifeframe model of your body. The camera, meanwhile, captures the details and textures of your face and skin. All this data in then massaged by computer-vision algorithms and synced to the cloud.
The final product—a photorealistic 3D avatar—appears in an iOS or Android app, complete with all of the data points I mention above. Wayenberg says the app will also include a time-lapse feature that illustrates how your body is changing over time, and a “difference” view that uses transparent overlays to compare your most recent scan to how you looked, say, three months ago.
Is it expensive? Sure. The pre-order price is $499, and the final retail price is projected to be a dizzying $899. Still, Wayenberg says ShapeScale is vastly less expensive than commercial systems that offer similar accuracy.
You also have to stand very still when using ShapeScale. And you need to be comfortable with taking potentially embarrassing photos and uploading them to the cloud. On this point, Wayenberg emphasizes that all data is encrypted, and you can opt to remove your face from the 3D scanning.
So have confidence, fitness enthusiasts. Even if cloud security lets you down, your tighty-whitey butt selfie won’t be connected to any identifiable face.