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Will Amazon Look invade your privacy while invading your wardrobe?

(EDITORIAL) Amazon has just unveiled it’s newest advancement in automation, the Echo Look. It is designed to keep you safe from the fashion police.

amazon look

Amazon keeps going

Amazon has a new product out— the Echo Look. This is a new addition to the Alexa-powered Echo smart speakers.

The Echo Look comes equipped with a camera, a base mount, and a companion feature called Style Check.

Echo Look’s objective

Billed at $200, Amazon is trying to go from your personal Assistant (Alexa) to your personal stylist. Echo Look does everything Alexa does—it reads you the news, dims your kitchen lights, and tells you the possibility of rain on the weekend.
However, it also comments on your outfit with ready feedback.

At present, the Echo Look is available by request only, and it is not clear what Amazon’s selection criteria to send you one would be.

How does it work

Echo works like a hands-free selfie stick. An elongated pill-shaped device sporting LED lights, Echo Look stands upright or sticks to the wall easily, and takes photos or videos of your outfits when you command Alexa to do so.

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You can twirl around for a 360-degree view for videos.

It has a 5 megapixel camera, which can sense depth, and hence darken the background to highlight outfits. The Echo Look has only one physical button on the side that disconnect the camera and the microphone.

Then you can share your pictures (which uploads to the Echo Look app, and stores in Amazon Cloud) for feedback from professional stylists or friends alike.

Echo collects and compares outfits on its app, touted as a “personal lookbook” that keeps a database of all the different outfits people using the app wear.

New hot or not?

The feature “Style Check” then becomes a fashion judge. Style Check allows the user to select two photos and decides which one is better. Initially, the opinion is based on human feedback, but Alexa will keep track of the priorities, and over time, smart machine learning will assist its owner.
The automated results chosen by Style Check apparently consider “fit, color, styling, seasons, and current trends.”

However, Amazon did not reveal much about the software that enables it to judge outfits.

Amazon claims the software was tested on many different body types, and that “fashion specialists” helped train the machine learned system.

Out of left field

The developers behind Echo Look also remain a mystery.

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Amazon said that the camera of Echo Look is not always on, but only activates when prompted by Alexa to do so.

However, Echo Look is sure to raise serious questions about privacy issues, especially if it is prone to being hacked and getting access to personal pictures and videos of individuals in their bedrooms and beyond.

Moreover, it carries serious question about the limits of automation.

Fashion is intensely personal. How can a machine possibly take the most basic of our instincts away from us and make choices on our behalf?

Furthermore, what is truly the benefit of The Echo Look? Your Apple or Android phone can perform most of its functions. All you need is to download the Outfit Compare app.

Not sold on it yet

Why add an extra set of prying eyes and listening devices into your house, when gadgets like these have proven highly vulnerable to hacking attempts?

The market will soon give its verdict. We have our doubts.

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Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

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