It's a rainy Tuesday at the CNET Smart Home, and I'm alone in the master bedroom staring at my reflection in a full-length mirror from a company called Naked Labs. Wearing nothing but underwear, I rattle through the usual insecurities mirrors like these tend to bring about: too much pudge in my midsection, not enough muscle in my shoulders, a hopelessly patchy attempt at a beard on my face. I'm getting paid for this, I remind myself.
At an app's instruction, I step onto a scale in front of the mirror, and it slowly starts to spin beneath me. The sophisticated, depth-sensing cameras hidden in the mirror's frame begin silently snapping pictures -- about 4 gigabytes' worth of data by the time the scale completes its rotation 6 or 7 seconds later. Finished, I step off and throw my clothes back on as quickly as I can. I wonder if the mirror sees what I see.
Turns out, it sees more. Within minutes, the app informs me that my scan is ready to view. A tap later, there I am -- or, at least, there's a 3D composite model of my nearly naked body from head to toe, each and every angle mapped by the mirror's infrared cameras. I grimace as I give my silver-bodied scan a slow turn with my thumb. That's me, all right -- every nook, cranny and imperfection captured down to the last detail, complete with my weight, my body fat percentage and measurements for my chest, waist, arms, calves and more.
I feel a bit like President Skroob from Spaceballs. Why didn't somebody tell me my ass was so big?!
This is what it's like to use the Naked Labs Body Scanner. At $1,400, it combines a motorized, rotating smart scale with a smart mirror that's packed with built-in, depth-sensing cameras and its own Intel processor. Scan yourself on a routine basis, and you'll be able to track your losses and gains over time and visualize your progress. Abs starting to reemerge thanks to a sit-up routine? The scanner might notice before you do. Love handles starting to expand after your cheat day became a cheat month? You'll be able to zoom in and examine the damage.
Horrifying? Maybe. Prohibitively expensive? Obviously. But I also can't deny that the Naked Labs Body Scanner is about as intriguing as anything I've ever tested in the CNET Smart Home.
Through the looking glass
The Naked Labs Body Scanner is the latest high-end smart home gadget we've installed at the CNET Smart Home, and I'm not the only one putting it to the test -- my colleagues Ashlee Clark Thompson, Andrew Gebhart, Megan Wollerton and Steve Conaway are also bravely giving it a go. A few weeks from now, we'll compile our experiences into a full review.
Yes, it's a super expensive, first-of-its-kind gadget aimed at early adopters with money to burn. At $1,400, I don't imagine that many of you reading this will rush to break the bank and buy one. But Naked Labs sees a future for this thing -- and the vision is perhaps more compelling than you might expect.
Like so much of the smart home, the Naked Labs scanner is all about gathering data and putting it to work. Aside from empowering users to monitor their bodies down to the last detail, Naked Labs sees the potential for users to share their data with healthcare providers, clothing manufacturers, researchers or even personal trainers you connect with via the app. One promo pic on the Naked Labs website even shows a personal trainer doodling on a user's scan to highlight areas of focus.
If you're starting to hear alarm bells ringing, I can't blame you. It's one thing to share data about how many times you turn the lights on and off with a tech startup -- it's quite another to share revealing images of your body. To its credit, Naked Labs seems to be doing its best to get ahead of privacy concerns like those with plainspoken language about company standards front and center in the app. The aim? Assuaging your worries from the get-go.
"You might want to share your scans and metrics with the world, or you might not," the Naked Labs app reads during setup. "You own your account, scan data and personal information and can delete it at any time."
The app goes on to acknowledge, however, that Naked Labs may anonymize and aggregate your data. "This helps us improve our services, develop new features and derive insights like health or fitness trends in the population."
"We will never sell your personal information to third parties," the app adds. "Unless you opt to share anonymized data, no one at Naked Labs can view your scans."
Even if you're willing to give Naked Labs your trust, what happens if they get hacked?
So far, the Naked Labs Body Scanner is working as promised. Setup was simple, thanks to the helpful, step-by-step directions in the app (if you're curious, I'll walk you through the process in that gallery above), and all of us have started taking regular scans.
We did encounter one hiccup early in the testing process. After I had already created an account and run a couple of scans, my co-testers created accounts of their own on their own phones and tried to do the same. However, none of them were able to finish their first scan -- the scale would rotate, but the app would return a vague error message before sending the data off to be compiled and compressed.
I made a call to the customer support number in the Naked Labs app and was connected with a representative named Allie within a minute. Allie was helpful and informative -- in addition to the obvious first step of unplugging the thing and plugging it back in, she immediately recommended that we disable the Bluetooth on all of the devices we'd paired with the scanner save for the device of the person trying to do a scan. Apparently, Naked Labs had already identified an issue in multiuser homes where the scanner won't send data if it isn't completely sure which nearby device -- and user -- it's supposed to connect with.
If anything, that sounds like the Naked Labs software is erring on the side of caution with regard to user privacy, and that's a good thing -- you wouldn't want your scan ending up on someone else's device due to a Bluetooth mishap. At any rate, Allie's recommendation did the trick, and all of us were able to complete scans afterwards. She also told me that a software fix is in the works and due out in the coming weeks.
(Oh, and toward the end of our call, she asked me to try a quick test scan to make sure the thing was working. The result? A scan of myself on the phone with the scanner's tech support line. If that isn't a perfect promo image for the modern smart home, I don't know what is.)
As for the scans themselves, we're still in the process of putting them to the test, but so far, they seem highly detailed and remarkably accurate. Expect to hear -- and see -- a lot more about them when we publish our full review.
The Naked Labs Body Scanner might be the epitome of where smart home technology is at right now. Smart devices are seeking to put more and more of our personal data to use, and their success will ultimately depend upon our comfort level with that exchange. That level of comfort is continuing to evolve -- 10 years ago, I'd have never believed that millions of people would happily scatter always-listening microphones throughout their homes, but that's what's happening today, and smart devices like theand the are smash hits as a result.
Naked Labs won't find that sort of success until it's able to bring the price down, so I'll be curious to see where the company heads next. A smaller version that ditches the mirror in favor of a simpler, standalone set of cameras might be one way to bring things down below $1,000.
"As a company that builds innovative products, we're always working on ways to improve our offering, and of course, cost is one of those ways -- especially in future products," a company representative tells CNET.
For now, we're focused on generation 1. I don't know if I see the future when I look into this mirror, but so far, I'm intrigued. We'll have a full review of it once we've stuck to our scanning regimen for a few more weeks or so (and a few of us will be in Berlin next week for, so I'm really looking forward to coming home and seeing the full effect of all of the currywurst I'll undoubtedly consume). Stay tuned -- you'll be hearing a lot more about this scanner very soon.
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