At its recent Hardware Media Event, Amazon continues to show why it is more than an e-commerce company. Two of the more intriguing additions to their “Alexa” product line are its Amazon Echo Frames and Amazon Echo Loop. These products are part of the growing “wearables” category, and will allow Amazon Alexa users to take Alexa with them wherever they go.
With the Holiday season approaching, the move into wearables makes sense for Amazon. Technology gifts are extremely popular during the season of giving. And these products are sure to be on many wish lists. Let’s take a brief look at each device (One general note. Neither product will include a camera.).
The Amazon Echo Frames ($180) are connected glasses that allow a user to speak a command to Alexa and allow them to hear Alexa’s response. The glasses feature four beamforming speakers that direct Alexa’s response directly into the user’s ears … and only the user’s ears. It also allows the Echo Frames to be used for hands-free listening to streaming audio. The glasses weigh just 1.1 ounces which is similar to regular glasses.
At the present time, the Echo Frames will only work with Android phones. However, this does make it an option to interact with Google Assistant, which has been gaining some traction with customers. There was no word if, or when, Amazon will support and iOS system.
For users who have prescription glasses, Amazon says that an optometrist will be able to fit lenses into their Echo Frames. Amazon has also said that those with vision insurance with out-of-network coverage may be eligible for a reimbursement.
One final note about the Echo Frames. While many users may be fans of the recent Avengers movies, these will not be like the glasses worn by Tony Stark. There will be no heads-up display (HUD) projecting into a user’s field of vision. At this time, the only response will be audible only.
The Echo Loop ($130) is an Alexa-enabled smart ring. The ring features an action button that wakes up the device, two microphones for speaking commands and an almost microscopic speaker to broadcast Alexa’s replies. The ring can be set to a vibrate mode to receive notifications. The Loop has not display, but a companion app for a smartphone allows users to monitor notifications. Unlike the Echo Frames, the Echo Loop will support both Android and iPhones. The Loop is water-resistant, however Amazon does not recommend that you shower or swim with the Loop on. Both the Loop and Echo Frames allow users to make phone calls. However, the Loop requires a somewhat awkward shuffle by moving the finger that the ring is on from your mouth (to speak) and your ear (to listen). The Loop also allows for one speed di