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Naked Labs Body Scanner review: Naked Labs' all-seeing smart mirror lays your insecurities bare

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I've been trying to get in shape since last February, and when I first started, just exercising a little and eating a reasonable diet was enough to cause pounds to come flying off. Since then, my weight has plateaued and been stuck in roughly the same place for about a year.

A scale like this would help me see if I need to make more changes, or if my current diet and exercise plan is indeed still helping, just in more subtle ways than at first. For instance, I would love to have a full body scan from when I first started working out to compare with my current plateau. I'd be curious to use this scale over a longer period of time to see what else it could show me.

Some naked insight

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Aside from the color of your underwear, the scanner doesn't leave much to the imagination once your clothes are off.

Screenshot by Ry Crist/CNET

Andrew didn't notice any changes during his month or so of tests, but I definitely noticed a bit of a difference in August, when I spent eight days in Europe covering the IFA 2018 tech showcase, complete with a follow-up weekend in Amsterdam. I lived large on my trip, feasting on everything from currywurst and pork knuckle to ham and gouda pancakes and Dutch gelato. On the other hand, I was also logging upward of 30,000 steps each day, often with a heavy backpack in tow.

Sure enough, I packed on 2 pounds during my trip -- but the scanner also suggested that my body fat percentage had dropped by about a point. Curious, I pulled up my scans from before and after the trip for a side-by-side comparison. After some scrutiny, I concluded that my legs did indeed look a little bit slimmer post-trip, and perhaps even my midsection, too. In other words, the scanner showed me both the good and the bad, which is a lot more than I'd have gotten just by stepping on a scale.

Oh, and I've chosen to share an unedited screenshot of that side-by-side comparison so you can judge for yourself, and also to offer a sense of how detailed the scans are once your clothes are off. Please be nice.

The tech is impressive

As that screenshot suggests, the Naked Labs Body Scanner gets frighteningly accurate once your clothes come off. None of us felt like our scans were misrepresenting us in any way, shape or form, and the measurements all checked out, too. For better or for worse, the scanner delivers on its promise of giving you a stunningly detailed look at yourself.

Getting started was simple, too, thanks to very helpful in-app instructions that walk you through setup, installation and your first scan. You can read all about that process by clicking here.

With a sturdy, weighted base and slim, freestanding build, the mirror itself looks and feels classy enough -- though the asymmetrical bezel along the left edge for the cameras and LEDs keeps it from blending in with more traditional decor. One other point of note: You can't use the Naked Labs Body Scanner in your bathroom, because humidity can damage the tech inside.

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The mirror shoots a red laser onto the floor to help you put the scale in the perfect spot when it's time to scan.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The design is functional, though. The scale nestles into the mirror's base when not in use, and you'll recharge its battery by connecting it to the mirror with a USB-C cable (the mirror itself needs to stay plugged into a wall socket). When the battery is full, that USB-C cable stows neatly on the underside of the scale -- a thoughtful, convenient touch.

Another nice touch: A red laser in the mirror that shoots down onto the floor to help you put the scale in the perfect spot when you're taking a scan. And don't worry if your bedroom is carpeted -- the scale comes with optional screw-in feet that'll help it sit steady, provided the carpet isn't more than an inch thick.

All of it makes the process of taking a scan less intimidating than you'd imagine. The app walks you through the process, with plenty of tips and reminders for things like optimal lighting conditions for the cameras, where to stand on the scale and what to do with your hair. Once you're ready and the scale is in place, you'll put your phone down, step on the scale, and hold still while it spins.

Two or three minutes later, your scan will be ready to view on your phone. Along with spinning your model around and zooming in, you can tag each scan with labels like "Good Day" and "Bad Day," or pull up a multi-angle view that shows you from the front, sides and back all at once. You can track measurements for your waist, chest, hips, arms and legs, too -- Naked Labs calls these measurements accurate to within a quarter inch, and as we tested, the five of us agreed that our numbers all looked to be spot on.

The Naked Labs app uses clear language to walk you through their privacy standards during setup.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Beyond providing self-monitoring, Naked Labs also plans to aggregate user scans to track health trends in the overall population. To that end, Naked Labs lets users opt in to anonymized data sharing if they like, noting in the privacy policy that, "this data would be immensely helpful to various obesity and health-related research programs." 

To Megan's point from before, I wonder about the diagnostic potential for this sort of tech. For instance, I live with a curvy spine as a result of scoliosis, and my poor posture showed up clear as day in my scans. I could also see the appeal for transgender people in transition, or for anyone else going through dramatic body changes.

The company insists that no one at the company can view your scans, and says it "will never sell your personal information or contact info," but adds that it "may commercialize this anonymized, aggregated data in the future."

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Is this the future?

As a deeply data-driven device, the Naked Labs Body Scanner fits right in with the modern smart home, and the idea of putting that data to work by connecting with personal trainers, clothing manufacturers and medical professionals is absolutely intriguing. It's very early -- and, at $1,395, very expensive -- but the product works as advertised and offers clear appeal for anyone interested in tracking changes to their body. With some refinements (and a lower price point), this scanner could be a breakout hit. Other competitors with similarly data-driven fitness pitches are lurking in the wings, as well. Silicon Valley sees some clear potential here.

That potential might be just as intimidating as the thought of cringing at a little model of your naked form on your phone. Breakout tech tends to transform our attitudes and our behavior, and modern culture is already plenty obsessed with physical appearances. What kind of cultural transformation should we expect to see once people have regular access to this much data about themselves and their bodies? Many might rightly prefer a willing suspension of disbelief when it comes to their back fat, or to any other thus-unseen insecurities.

For now, the Naked Labs Body Scanner won't appeal to anyone except the most enthusiastic of early adopters. Still, if you're willing to trust this company with your private data (and willing to splurge), preorders are open now, with delivery expected by the end of the year.

Ashlee Clark Thompson, Steve Conaway, Andrew Gebhart and Megan Wollerton contributed to this review.

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