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Why Amazon Wants to Raid Your Selfies and Read Your Calendar

Because third-party isn’t enough, a new Amazon scheme sees the e-commerce leader getting its tentacles into your devices to scrutinize your selfies, calendar and more, with the central goal of enticing you to buy the clothing it has on offer.

A report from British publication The Telegraph published last week reveals that Amazon filed a patent application with the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) for a system that would dig into consumers’ photos to find selfies, using augmented reality to layer clothing carried on Amazon onto these pictures and create outfit ideas that otherwise don’t exist in a virtual dressing room where the customer is the mannequin. Users swipe right or left to approve or dismiss a garment, helping Amazon to learn each individual’s likes and dislikes.

The calendar on your mobile or desktop computer would also give Amazon a wealth of information about your line or work, the climate you live in and your favorite leisure activities, data that’s vital to accurately recommending fashion buys a consumer might need for an upcoming wedding or job interview.

Options to share the picture and find similar looks accompany each augmented reality outfit-bedecked virtual mannequin. Users can also save the styles they like and get more details on the items displayed in each photo.

The Telegraph also reported that the system involves not just the consumer’s device but her friend’s and family’s, too. The patent filing revealed that Amazon wants access to those gadgets as well, potentially to recommend clothing the primary consumer might want to borrow.

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A search of the IPO’s patent database, containing results through Jan. 23, did not return information on Amazon’s application.

Amazon, synonymous with “disruption,” is sure to strike fear into the hearts of fashion retailers everywhere with this news, though its data-centric ambitions could prompt rivals to secure their own ways of giving customers meaningful, relevant style recommendations.

However, amid growing data privacy concerns throughout Europe and North America, it remains to be see if consumers will be happy to give Amazon such intrusive access to the details of their personal lives.

Knowing about an upcoming black-tie event is one thing but being privy to your colonoscopy appointment is another.

Should the patent application be granted, Amazon would strengthen its forays into AR technologies that help consumers better understand products available for sale in the digital realm. Seeing how garments appear on their own form could boost online conversions and aid in deflating return rates—notoriously high in e-commerce compared with brick-and-mortar retail.

What’s more, Amazon joins a growing list of retailers including Zara and H&M that’s experimenting with AR to inspire and entertain young, tech-savvy shoppers.