Amazon.com Inc. has added to its Echo family. The e-retailer today introduced the Echo Look, a small tower-like, voice-activated camera that Amazon bills as a style assistant.
“Using just your voice, easily take full-length photos and short videos with a hands-free camera that includes built-in LED lighting, depth-sensing camera, and computer vision-based background blur,” an email to Amazon customers states. “See yourself from every angle with the companion app. Build a personal lookbook and share your photos.”
The device sells for $199.99 with free shipping and Amazon is offering it by invitation only, according to the page a consumer views after clicking a link in the email from Amazon, which is No.1 in the newly released Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000. When the customer clicks “learn more,” she receives the following message in a popup window: “Request or accept an invitation to purchase Echo Look. If selected, you will receive an email with an invitation to purchase.” The email did not state who received such offers, and Amazon could not be reached immediately for additional comment.
The device responds to such commands as “Alexa, take a picture” or “Alexa, take a video.” Amazon also says the device can offer a second opinion on outfits with Style Check, a new service that combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists.
“Adding a camera is the smartest next move for Amazon even though it will trigger an ‘ick’ response by people nervous about Amazon looking into their homes,” Forrester Research Inc. vice president and principal analyst’ James McQuivey writes in a blog post. He also predicts the cost will fall to $99 in the next year.
The Echo Look is a step toward the “long-hoped-for magic mirror concept I first wrote about in 2011,” McQuivey writes. “The magic mirror would look at you and help you make yourself over. While many companies like L’Oreal and Rimmel have adapted this concept for use in a mobile phone makeup app, nobody has yet gone for the full-body closet assistant.”
The device’s ability to help users compare outfits or track what they wore and when is secondary to the main goal of getting cameras into consumers’ homes, he writes. “That’s the endgame for intelligent agents like Alexa. Amazon’s Echo device family has given it a huge lead over Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Now, and Microsoft’s Cortana. Adding a camera long before the others even have environmental voice interfaces on offer (or widely embraced, in the case of Google Home), cements Amazon’s leadership position,” he writes.