Can this sausage-like Amazon Echo make me a better (OK — decent) dresser? It really depends on what you give it to work with.
Fun fact: Everyone cares what they look like. Even those of us who don't admit it at least take a passing interest in the clothes we wear. Maybe it's just a couple seconds of "OK, I think this looks good." Or maybe it's a couple minutes standing in front of the closet in the morning.
But do I really care enough to let the likes of Amazon help me dress a little better?
Enter the Amazon Echo Look. It's the fourth member of the Echo line (including the not-actually-named-Echo Tap) and is the first (but not only) one to sport a camera. In fact, the camera really is the star of the show.
But let's back up a bit. This sausage-shaped plastic doodad is, first and foremost, an Alexa device. It's got four microphones and a rear-facing speaker and does all the stuff we've come to love from Alexa. It answers questions. (To varying degrees of effect.) It controls any of your connected devices. This isn't as robust a device as the other Echoes. Don't bother trying to play music through it — your smartphone might well do it better.
No, the Echo Look is all about going through your closet.
If you really care about what you wear and want to keep track of when you wore it, Echo Look can help.
Pair up the Echo Look app (it's separate from the regular Alexa app) and you're quickly walked through things. Stand in front of the Echo Look after dressing (or before — your call) and say "Alexa, take a picture." It snaps the snap and logs your outfit. From there you can leave yourself notes about what you were wearing, if you wish. So you've got a good record of what you wore, when you wore it, and how you looked. You can shoot video, too, to see what the backside looks like.
The real fun starts to come in when you compare one outfit to another. Amazon says it's using algorithms (middle-out, no doubt) and even human expertise to figure out what looks best on you. It also asks you to weigh in on what you think looks best, the better to learn your own personal style.
How well it works really depends on what you give it to work with. Color and style matters, of course. But I got the feeling the pose did as well. (It's also smart enough to figure out when you've swapped in someone else.) I didn't always agree with the conclusion, but I kinda dug the idea, at least.
More impressive was just how easy this all was. The four LEDs that ring the camera lens are ridiculously bright (seriously, don't look right at them) and do a really good job of lighting the scene, even in my dark bedroom. (In fact, the camera struggled when I had things more properly lit while filming this video.) The app is nicely set up — it works exactly the same on iOS as it does on Android — and shows just how well Amazon has made its products for anyone to use. Not just nerds.
I didn't always agree with the conclusion, but I kinda dug the idea, at least.
What it hasn't done is made me want to care about fashion anymore. It's just not my thing. And so Echo Look definitely isn't the Alexa device for me.
And even if you are someone who cares about clothes as much as some of us care about computers, you're still going to have to commit to using the Echo Look every day in order for its $199 price tag to make sense. It's definitely a niche product, with a more limited use case than the newer (and only slightly more expensive) Echo Show.
But on the other hand, maybe that's just the price we pay for fashion.
Enter to win this Echo Look
OK, so the Echo Look definitely isn't for me. But that isn't to say that it won't serve one of you out there quite nicely. So let's give it away!