A camera for fashion selfies? Useful or Narcissism?

Have you considered a voice activated assistant and put it off because it wouldn't take selfies?

I understand that some would want a record of every outfit they ever wore. It's a logical extension of paying attention to fashion. Since that's not me, I started wondering whether the purported Amazon Echo might be more than a narcissistic mirror with memory.

The unit shown here is the camera-on-a-stick model that is officially announced. There is also a prototype with a tablet sized screen that might be useful for programming to view a security camera, a shopping list captured by voice or photo verification for other skills. 

I'll buy one if it includes a "Skill" that picks up what movie I'm watching and shows me "who is that guy is that we say in the other thing"



Amazon's new Echo Look helps you pick out your outfit

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 $200 voice-activated camera that will take full-length pictures of your outfits, by using the command "Alexa, take a photo." It can also take videos -- "Alexa, take a video" -- to let you check yourself out from multiple angles, through a live feed from the Look beamed to your smartphone.

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

The Echo Look will require its own app on your phone to work. It is the first in the Alexa-powered family of Echo devices to carry a camera. All photos and video the Look records will be accessible through this app, although they are stored locally and in Amazon's cloud. Users will be able to delete images at any time, said Amazon spokeswoman Michelle Taylerson.

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

And yet, 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 voice command, using a high-tech, depth-sensing camera that seems a bit overpowered for the job. Sure, millennials are selfie obsessed, but this sounds like something that would be used regularly only 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.

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." The company says it will take into account trends and what is 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?

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 3-D maps of rooms, objects and people, which opens up many possibilities for future, customized products. With Amazon promising more features for the camera are on their way, 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.


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