Amazon is expanding AI assistant Alexa’s capabilities with a new standalone selfie camera, designed to give users fashion tips and advice on what to wear.
Echo Look, as the device is called, follows in the footsteps of the main Amazon Echo voice-controlled gadget, of which more than 10 million have reportedly sold.
This new hands-free camera version offers many of the same functionalities as the original, but also comes with four LED lights, a depth-sensing system and a background blurring effect, all in a bid to give users the perfect full-length shot of what they’re wearing. It also takes videos and can automatically share such looks on your own or a friend’s phone.
More than just being a means of seeing what you look like however, the device also comes with a service called “Style Check”, which uses machine learning to compare different outfits and advise on the best choice based on trends and what flatters you.
The write-up reads: “Style Check keeps your look on point using advanced machine-learning algorithms and advice from fashion specialists. Submit two photos for a second opinion on which outfit looks best on you based on fit, colour, styling and current trends.”
As with most AI, the intention is that the service gets smarter the more people use it. It additionally will help users create a personal look book by saving all their previous outfits – what they wore and when.
It comes of course at a time when Amazon is increasingly trying to shift into the fashion space. As Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation at e-commerce solutions provider, Salmon, comments: “It doesn’t take too much imagination to realise that this in turn will enable Amazon to promote products sold through its platform, and even its own clothing ranges – thereby locking customers into a relationship with Amazon. Existing retailers need to be aware of Amazon’s aggressive horizontal expansion and its innovative invention of new routes to market. While many retailers are still struggling with establishing omnichannel strategies, Amazon is taking omnichannel innovations to the next level.”
Voice is one particular area that will continue to see growth in terms of how consumers discover product too. According to Mary Meeker of KPCB, half of all web searches will use voice or image search rather than text by 2020. “More efficient and often more convenient than typing, voice-based interfaces are ramping quickly and creating a new paradigm for human-computer interaction,” she said last year.
The Echo Look device retails for $199.99, though is not yet available to the public.