Coming to a shopping centre near you: 3D body scanners

Improving on the old coin-operated scale, a new Australian startup is placing walk-in 3D body scanners in shopping centres to take people’s measurements.

The Sydney-based company, mPort, on Monday went public with a subscription service targeting people who want to keep track of their fitness or get accurate clothing measurements.

The company is co-founded by Dipra Ray, who is also the co-founder of a startup called NexPay that provides low exchange rates for foreign students.

The first mPort scanner is located at the Westfield Warriangh mall in Manly. Ray told Computerworld Australia that the startup plans to deploy 15-20 more devices in other high foot-traffic areas by the end of 2013. The startup paid to lease space at the Westfield but may also explore commercial partnerships with retailers to place the body scanners in store.

The mPort pods use infrared technology similar to the Microsoft Kinect camera to take measurements, Ray said. That means it does not pose any radiation health risk or see through clothes like an airport security scanner.

“People are not very comfortable with the airport scanners as they are,” said Ray. However, a downside of the technology is that users must wear tight-fitting clothes to receive an accurate measurement, he said.

Customers can track their measurements over time through the mPort website, which will be viewable on a PC or mobile device. Statistics include BMI, fat content, waist-to-hip-ratio, as well as measurements of biceps, chest, thighs and more. The startup also provides a mechanism to set and track goals.

The data is stored on mPort’s servers. “None of the measurements are stored locally” at the booth, he said. “We have absolute confidence in the security of our systems, so people can’t just have access to your measurements randomly.”

While mPort is exploring commercial agreements to share customer measurements with retailers, Ray said customers will have to first give permission before the data can be used.

Users can get two free scans a year, or for more frequent access subscribe to plans ranging from $20 to $100 per year.

Besides expected user revenue, the startup is so far completely self-funded by the founders, but mPort is working on securing a grant from Commercialisation Australia and may soon look to raise external capital, Ray said.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Techworld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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