Episode Summary

In this 2nd edition of FC Insiders Exclusive content we bring you Brian's favorite topic - Body Data. The commerce impact is potentially massive. Listen as we dig in deep to discover the treasure trove that is your body (data).

Episode Notes

Your Body is a Dataland

A Preview of the first Future Commerce eBook

In early 2015 I realized we had enough existing technology to map our bodies and keep track of the data. Personal step trackers were just the start of body tracking; whether it be cameras, scanners, sensors, etc we could keep track of our size, shape, and health with exact precision. My mind raced at the implications. We could have (nearly) perfect digital avatars. Combined with other emerging technologies such as AR, VR, 3D Printing/knitting, AI, etc., the application of this tech had the possibility to shift our fundamental understanding of how we relate our bodies to the world. I identified seven categories at the time:

  1. Clothing

  2. Gaming

  3. Health

  4. Dating

  5. Usage of body likeness

  6. Identity

  7. And an extra futuristic category I'll label Digital Proxy

Today we're going to cover the first three -


The implications for clothing are deeper than they may appear. With a virtual representation of your body, you could try clothes on in VR, a holographic representation of yourself, or an augmented reality mirror/selfie camera. Additionally, with aggregate body data, companies could manufacture clothing that better fits their customer base and also recommend clothes that are cut to suit the wearer.

But the real end game is perfectly personalized clothing that fits its wearer to a "T." Because these clothes would be manufactured post order placement, brands either have to reset customer expectations on length of time for product delivery or make massive changes to the supply chain. These changes could include 3D knitting at scale, on-demand manufacturing, or last mile manufacturing.

Further out: this could have a profound effect on brands, designs, repairs, and clothing replenishment. If every piece of clothing fits every person perfectly ("perfect" could be by desired cut/style), then purchasing decisions will be based on pattern/design, and quality of manufacturing and material. Manufactures will likely have offerings for every tier. New patterns could be computer-generated, leaving very little room for designers, while additional designs could be created by the maker community through a sort of open-sourced design community.


One of my favorite examples of body data being applied over the past years is EA Sport's NFL Madden. When I first started exploring the idea of personal body data, the first idea that popped in my head was "holy... you could play backyard football with your friends in VR as yourself". Football is just an example - there's a whole host of games that could be better played as yourself. Imagine the fun of being a character in the next FPS like Counter-Strike with your own height, weight, speed, and vertical jump. Entire roles or even games could be based around different body types.

Data will be updated as fast as our monitoring devices allow for - so metrics like best mile/endurance, weight, response time, vertical jump etc could be measured based on most recent run, step on a scale, or captured on the spot as you move in front of a video camera.

A logical outflow of this idea is hyper-gamification of health and fitness. If your "personal character" improves based off of your own traits, naturally you'll become more competitive the more fit you become. Imagine the most serious and competitive gaming communities relying on the gamer's own personal health stats making many them the most fit among us. Also, this could absolutely change gyms. Instead of sitting on a bike and watching tv, you might be competing in a worldwide races like bike, foot, rowing, or even more ethereal competitions that include gaming aspects such as 360 courses through space, strategy, reflexes, problem solving, or other tasks that require/sharpen the brain.


Gamification of fitness is not a new idea and certain health-related metrics are really the first and most pervasive body data we have been measuring as a society thus far. Weight, BMI, sleep, steps/distance, and heart rate are common stats to measure. At least in terms of adoption, Fitbit, Apple Watch, Samsung Gear, etc - groundbreaking technology. More and better personal monitoring/tracking tools are in development. Ideally this will lead to more widespread adoption of healthcare (which has a whole host of benefits that are already covered by people much more knowledgeable on that subject than me).

I'll dwell on one outcome: push instead of pull healthcare. Right now, we go to the doctor when we're concerned about something and for maybe an annual checkup. With these personal monitoring tools, we'll be prompted to address issues before we can even tell they're happening. These devices might even alert our doctor for more serious issues.

Going even deeper, maybe certain issues will go to an impersonal tier 1 "certified healthcare professional" who has access to your data - ie, virtual health + personal monitoring could allow for a more tiered healthcare system with better systems of escalation. This could ultimately provide better preventive care and emergency life saving measures. It could also save money and give more people access to healthcare worldwide.

So much more

There's more to Body Data than can comfortably fit in this brief overview. In the coming weeks we'll be releasing an ebook about Body Data that will go into greater depth, including how BD can be used to disrupt Dating, likenesses, Identity and an extra futuristic category I'll label Digital Proxy!

  • Teaser

  • FutureCommerce's 2018 predictions episode is upcoming - tune in to find out what else is ahead for body data!

For Future Commerce Insiders, I'm Brian Lange. Retail Tech moves fast, but we're moving faster.


Music: Looking Back - Lee Rosevere Photography: Jason Schjerven, Unsplash

About the Show

Are you looking for eCommerce insights, strategy, or operational advice for your eCommerce business? Future Commerce is the leading podcast for founders and operators alike who aren't looking for the next conversion rate optimization tip or how to execute a playbook. It's for those who yearn for something deeper than CRO and PPC. Each week our hosts Phillip Jackson and Brian Lange ask hard questions to founders and executives at successful brands and how they turned their 'making money online' approach into a thriving business.

Weekly essays, blogs, show notes, full transcripts, and quarterly market research reports are available at https://futurecommerce.fm