What if a fitness app could show you the way your body changes week to week using a 3D body scan? That’s the sort of mobile app that Body Labs CEO Bill O’Farrell is hoping to inspire, with an API that gives developers access to a growing arsenal of body scans.
To build out that API, his company just picked up $8 million in investor funding in a round led by Intel Capital.
The technology it takes to render the human physique into a 3D digital format is within reach for many companies. There was a time when scanning a person’s body required a giant apparatus with multiple cameras. Today, hardware companies have shrunk those capabilities down to an affordable handheld device. Google Tango, Occipital Structure, Microsoft Kinect, and Intel RealSense all make 3D scanning possible.
Palm-sized sensors can already digitize simple 3D objects, but creating human avatars is more complex. In addition to taking in body dimensions, developers also need contextual data that can indicate how an individual body moves in space.
Earlier this year, Body Labs decided it wanted to open up its robust collection of 2,300 body scans to developers. At the time, it announced a new tool called Bodykit that would allow coders to create apps that leverage its data stockpile. Though big on promise, the API was limited. The only apps it allowed involved having users enter their body measurements into Bodykit, which then rendered them into a 3D avatar.
But CEO Bill O’Farrell wants app developers to be able to upload body scans directly from the array of 3D sensors on the market. To do that, the Bodykit API needs to more deeply integrate with hardware like Intel’s RealSense. This deeper integration could give consumers more direct access to body scanning technology. For instance, a developer could build a fitness app that allows users to upload weekly body scans, so they can get a broader view of how their workout regime is affecting their body over time.
“To enable a developer to build an application his or her self we have to build [body scanning] more rigorously into the API,” said O’Farrell. What’s prevented Body Labs from nurturing its API is a flush of money generating projects for corporate clients. The work is keeping Body Labs in business, but keeping it from delivering on its big vision. To make its API more compelling, Body Labs needed more resources.
That’s where this funding round comes into play. With $8 million in hand, Body Labs plans to build an entirely new team focused exclusively on an API that will encourage the next generation of body-focused apps.
The company has raised a total of $10 million to date. In addition to Intel Capital, investors include FirstMark Capital, Max-Planck-Innovation GmbH, Osage University Partners, and Catalus Capital.