Watch out, Echo Look. Google Assistant has its own stylist, and the Google-funded fashion assistant is spreading its wings: After launching on the Google Home Hub in December, Epytom’s StyleHacks now comes to smartphones and tablets.
The Google Assistant action offers fashion advice based on factors like the local weather, personal tastes and recent trends. People can ask their Google Assistant-enabled smart screens to “talk to StyleHacks” and view the suggested looks on the screen. Once they find looks they like, the tool can also email the outfits for future reference.
“StyleHacks is the fashion assistant you can simply speak with to get the right fashion inspiration at the right time,” said Epytom founder and chief executive officer Anastasia Sartan.
In its early days on platforms like Facebook Messenger, the service existed as a chatbot. Voice was the logical next step. But while this sort of functionality is technically possible via voice only, the suggestions can be harder to grasp without seeing the actual looks or styling tips.
Enter display-equipped smart speakers, particularly Google Home devices.
With the service available on mobile, through the built-in Google Assistant on Android devices and the downloadable iOS app, StyleHacks goes from home-based tool to portable fashion adviser.
Of course, as a data-driven service, StyleHacks is only as good as the information that informs the advice. According to Epytom, the data comes from more than 550 influencers, who contribute their visual content to the service. Think of it as a pipeline of style inspiration going out to some 110,000 monthly active users in the U.S. and Canada.
“Our mission is to empower users to take back control of their styles and wardrobes,” Sartan added, “and we are excited to see the number of conversations with StyleHacks doubling every other day.”
If StyleHacks succeeds in offering helpful fashion tips without the hassle, as Sartan describes it, that alone might be appealing for time-crunched or fashion-challenged consumers. If not, April will kick the convenience factor up a notch with the launch of conversational shopping — a new feature that will be able to source looks and products from various merchants.
Granted, Google Assistant can already do some of that on its own. For instance, Google Home Hub users can conduct voice searches, view products and add items to an online cart, thanks to Google Express. But the experience is rough around the edges. Users generally need to know what they’re looking for and, more importantly, how to articulate functional searches that can unearth them.
Amazon, Google’s chief rival in voice platforms, has similar product discovery challenges in its marketplace. In general, it’s best suited for people who know exactly what they want, and its devices tend to work accordingly.
The e-tailer has been trying to crack the challenge, especially when it comes to fashion. It invests deeply in artificial intelligence development, which is also a core foundation for its Echo Look fashion selfie camera and software. But so far, the emphasis has been on styling more than shopping. Amazon also produces its own display-equipped smart speaker, the Alexa-powered Echo Show. While better for shopping than the flagship Echo speaker, its discovery features are still rather limited.
The camera, the smart screen and the vast foundation of Amazon’s fashion AI efforts look like dots waiting to be connected. Meanwhile, competitors like Google have an opportunity to hone their fashion chops. Or at least invest in startups that can do it for them, like Epytom.
The tech giant’s Google Assistant Investment Program led a $1 million seed round for the StyleHacks maker in September 2018. Back then the startup was working on Maison Me, a custom tailoring service, but refocused its efforts on styling.
That was just before the Google Home Hub was announced in October, but after other smart displays from partners had already hit the scene. Ilya Gelfenbeyn, head of Google’s investment arm, saw then how fashion would fit in: “A lot of people start their daily routines asking their Google Home speakers for a weather forecast, looking for some help before they pick out their outfits for the day.
“Smart Displays with the Google Assistant make it possible to build services and recommendations in such a visual industry like fashion, and we believe that personalized what-to-wear recommendations can really simplify the morning routines for people.”
Now that StyleHacks is coming to mobile devices, it’s an opportunity for Epytom to speak to a broader audience — and for its investor, it’s another way to tempt people into the Google Assistant fold. That may well be the theme when Google posts about StyleHacks on its official blog on Wednesday.