The Echo Look, Amazon’s new voice-activated, live-streaming camera, wants to help pick out your outfit

US$200 device beams photos and live-feed videos to your phone so you can check yourself out from multiple angles, while the ‘style check’ feature offers tips based on machine learning and advice from fashion specialists

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 May, 2017, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 May, 2017, 5:42pm

Soon Amazon’s voice assistant will be able to answer your most burning question: Alexa, does this make my butt look big?

Amazon recently announced the Echo Look, a US$200 voice-activated camera that will take full-length pictures of your outfits when asked “Alexa, take a photo”. It can also take videos – “Alexa, take a video” – to let you check yourself out from multiple angles via a live feed beamed from the Look to your smartphone.

It is, essentially, the hi-tech alternative to a friend. Or a mirror.

The Echo Look, the first in the Alexa-powered family of Echo devices to carry a camera, will require its own app on your phone to work. All photos and video recorded by the Look will be accessible through this app, while being stored both locally and in Amazon’s cloud. Users will be able to delete images at any time, explains Amazon spokeswoman Michelle Taylerson.

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Amazon has done a great job of making itself into a prime digital destination to do your errands. It hasn’t quite established itself as a fashion authority yet, but Echo Look appears to be a bid to do that.

However, it is hard to see how the device does much to help Amazon on this front, because its functionality would seem to appeal to such a narrow slice of women.

Let’s start with the idea that it takes a full-length photo of you, using a hi-tech, depth-sensing camera that seems a bit overpowered for the job. Sure, millennials are selfie obsessed, but this sounds like something that would only be used regularly by influencers and other digital tastemakers. What real-world woman needs to start each day with a professional-looking, head-to-toe photo? It’s solving a problem that isn’t exactly universal.

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It also lets you keep an archive of all your outfit photos – a feature that caters only to our self-indulgence, not one that does anything to make shopping or getting dressed meaningfully easier.

Then there’s the “style check” feature, which offers advice on which of multiple outfits to wear based on machine learning and “advice from fashion specialists”.

Amazon says the Look will take into account trends and what outfits are the most flattering. But it is difficult to imagine women using this tool with much regularity. Who has time for this kind of consultation and deliberation around everyday dressing?

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What the Echo Look does accomplish for Amazon is getting an Alexa-powered camera into your home. Depth-sensing cameras have been used to map out sophisticated 3D maps of rooms, objects and people, which opens up many possibilities for future, customised products. In terms of the Look, Amazon has promised that more features for the camera are on their way, so it’s likely we haven’t seen the ultimate end game of this device.

The Echo Look does not yet have a shipping date, but anyone can sign up for an invitation to buy it.