Amazon Eco is a brand of smart speakers; the devices connect to the voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service Alexa. I don’t know about you, but I think this robotics is extremely clever, capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic and other real-time information. It can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automationhub.
This year Echo Look has been introduced as a camera with Alexa built-in. Out of all of the Echo devices, this is the one that fascinates me the most. It can provide artificial intelligence outfit recommendations, take full-length photos, and record 360-degree videos; in addition to the usual features available on the Echo. In effect, it is your own personal shopper and assistant, available to give fashion advice. As a consumer product, it helps catalogue your outfits and rates your look based on ‘machine learning algorithms’ with advice from fashion specialists.
Echo Look has a focus on style; you can take full-length photos of your daily look using just your voice. The built-in LED lighting and depth-sensing camera let you blur the background to make your outfits pop, giving you clean, shareable photos. You can also obtain a live view in the Echo Look app or ask Alexa to take a short video so you can see yourself from every angle.
The app can be used to create a personal lookbook so you can browse and compare your outfits, see a calendar of what you’ve worn over time, keep notes on your outfits and select your favourites. According to Amazon, Style Check keeps your look on point. The idea is that you submit two photos for a second opinion on which outfit looks best on you based on fit, colour, styling, and current trends. Over time, these decisions get smarter through your feedback and input from a team of experienced fashion specialists.
Other versions of the Echo include, the Echo Show which features a tactile 7-inch LCD screen that can be used for playing media and making video calls. The Echo Spot is similar to the Show, but has a 2.5-inch circular screen, and looks like an alarm clock. The Echo Plus is effectively a smart home hub, connecting to most common wireless protocols to control connected smart devices within a home. It incorporates 7 second-generation far field microphones and noise cancellation, while also supporting Dolby Sound.
I really don’t know how I feel about these assistants! The Echo responds to ‘Alexa’ and therefore I feel that the device is a type of life form that is listening in to everything that is said with a room/house. This bring up the question of privacy; are brands like Amazon using the devices as market research, a way of getting to know consumers in much greater detail?
Having said this, I do feel that the devices are extremely clever and well developed, making home life easier for busy people, especially the Smart-home controls. Despite Google Home’s feature expansion, Alexa still remains the most robust digital assistant when it comes to smart speakers. I still find it fascinating that the assistant is capable of fetching all sorts of information for you. This just demonstrates how far technology has come and how fast it is developing.
The features of Alexa that appeal to me the most are its ability to read audiobooks, set alarms, get weather updates and control smart home devices. Similarly you can ask Alexa to order a drink from Starbucks and access your calendar. Alexa is always getting smarter with new features and skills frequently added; what will be next?
How do you feel about the rise in virtual assistants?