Amazon on Wednesday unveiled its first Echo device with a built-in camera.
Called the Echo Look, the $200 gadget uses its depth-sensing camera and LED lights for style selfies and fashion advice. It lets people take full-length photos and videos of their outfits using just their voices, so they can more easily compare looks and share their fashion pictures with friends.
The company also introduced a service for the Echo Look app called "Style Check," which uses machine learning and tips from fashion experts to offer customers style recommendations. The concept is similar to the company's Outfit Compare feature in the Amazon shopping app.
The new device, which will include the same Alexa voice assistant as other Echo devices, is available by invite only to US customers. Invites will be granted on a rolling basis.
The newest Echo device points to Amazon's efforts to expand in the fashion world, after it launched a handful of its own clothing lines and created a live fashion show called "Style Code Live." Amazon has now grown to become the biggest online apparel retailer in the US.
Apparel is becoming an increasingly important growth area for Amazon, after the e-commerce giant has already become a major player in books, electronics and consumables. Additionally, the device could help Amazon bring on even more Echo customers, after the company managed to sell millions of units already.
Still, many of this device's functions are already available -- though not in one package -- using a phone camera and a run-of-the-mill mirror. Also, amid increased concerns these days about user privacy, it's possible the camera-toting Look may not become as popular as the original Echo, priced at $180, and smaller Echo Dot, priced at $50.
While other functions weren't mentioned in Wednesday's announcement, Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson suggested that it's possible the Look's camera could eventually be used for other things, such as surveillance and video communication. Additionally, the Look and Style Check could someday recommend and sell clothes to users, providing Echo devices with a new way to make money.
"There's lots of stuff you can do once you've got a connected camera in the home," Dawson said.
The Look's depth-sensing camera and software are used to blur the background of photos, to allow people to more easily see their outfits.
For Style Check, a user can submit two photos for advice on which outfit looks best, based on fit, color, styling and current trends. Amazon says that over time these second opinions will get smarter thanks to users' feedback and input from Amazon's fashion specialists.
A hint that the Look was coming showed up last month when a leaked image gave us an early view of the device. However, these initial reports wondered whether the Look could be a security camera.
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