Amazon’s Echo devices have so far restricted themselves to audio-based inputs via an always-listening microphone, raising concerns about hacking and invasions of privacy. The e-commerce giant is now taking things a step further with the Echo Look, a voice-controlled selfie camera stand that uses the power of Alexa to suggest fashion tips.
Amazon envisions the Echo Look as a convenient bedroom accessory which will help consumers put together an impeccable outfit. They’ll be able to activate Alexa using their voice and ask it to capture full-length photos and short videos. The LED bulbs and depth-sensing sensor is supposed to make the background blur for clean photos where the clothing is front-and-center.
While all this sound nice, people might prefer to just use a mirror to see what they look like rather than through the eyes of a robotic AI. Amazon is trying to make its case by touting that people will be able to build a personal lookbook where they can get recommendations on brands based on their daily style, a convenient way to push the company’s wares.
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Amazon is also showing off Alexa’s AI smarts via an in-app tool called Style Check. The new service combines advice from fashion specialists and machine learning algorithms to tell you which outfit is better in a head-to-head comparison. It’s supposed to make better judgments over time via a user’s feedback and input from an in-house team of stylists.
Asking unknown strangers and an AI assistant to rate a person’s clothes sounds like a dubious premise, not to mention the privacy concerns that arise from having a cloud-connected device constantly monitoring what a user wears. Amazon could use all the data it collects to make even more personalized ads than before, since it now has a camera to see exactly what you look like.
The Echo Look is priced at $199.99 and is currently available by invitation only. You can check it out via Amazon.