Jul 30, 2019
The video editing technology that has been dubbed “deepfake” has some spooky potential implications, but startups are looking for ways it might be useful at retail.
A face-swapping app now in beta called Superpersonal allows users to map their faces, including the smallest facial gestures and expressions, onto a virtual body to create a highly-realistic, moving on-screen representation of themselves, Forbes reports. A second solution by an Austrian team called Reactive Reality allows users to make lifelike video avatars of themselves to interact with, try on and move around in virtual clothing.
Thus far, deepfakes have mostly been used for novelty’s sake. A popular video of Jim Carrey’s face superimposed over Jack Nicholson’s in his starring role in The Shining, for instance, makes for a humorous if not unsettling watch. This ability of deepfakers to tamper with video, however, also demonstrates the technology’s potential for abuse.
The most obvious concern about deepfakes is that it lets creators make videos that purport to show people saying things they never said or doing things they never did, which would be difficult or impossible to distinguish from real footage of the person. There is a laundry list of potential negative social and political implications that could arise were the technology to be used in this way.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that experts in tech, government and academia are expressing concern over the potential use of deepfakes to confuse the public during the coming election cycle. Developers from various sectors are working to find ways to differentiate authentic video from deepfakes, which some suggest will be undetectable to viewers within 12 months.
As for its uses at retail, though, deepfake technology represents a potential evolution of remote try-on technology that promises greater convenience for shoppers and fewer product returns. Brands and retailers have rolled out numerous AR apps which in addition to clothing, allow for virtual try-ons of products like makeup and hair dye which can be time consuming or difficult to test out in real life.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see value in deepfake technology for retailers and brands as a try-on tool? What other good use cases do you imagine? Are you concerned that deepfake tech will be abused by retail marketers?
“Brand managers must be agile enough to pivot when, not if, this tech makes headlines to the detriment of a brand that abused it.”
“Deepfake takes the fun of FaceApp and Photoshop to a whole new level. I can see plenty of uses for retailers…”
“My response to application of this tech in retail is similar to all the other VR technologies: There’s little reality in virtual reality.”
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