Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa will be enabled to be summoned anytime, anywhere by a pair of “smart glasses” its first wearable device that Amazon is working on, according to media reports quoting sources.
The reports said that to enable it to be worn comfortably and unobtrusively, the device is designed to look like a regular pair of spectacles and would tether wirelessly to a smartphone. Without having to insert headphones into their ears, a bone-conduction audio system would allow the wearer to hear Alexa.
There are other upcoming products to be launched by Alexa apart from the glasses. With a new home security camera system, the Seattle-based group is also said to be expanding its “smart home” hardware line-up. For example, by letting Amazon customers see when their orders from the site have been delivered to their doorstep and allowing people to view the video feed on Echo Show’s screen as the internet-connected camera ties into its Echo products.
According to the people with knowledge of Amazon’s plans, alongside updates to existing Echo devices, one or both of these products could be launched before the end of the year.
There were no comments from Amazon.
The success of the Alexa devices has emboldened Amazon’s push into the home even while Amazon has had its fair share of failures — including the Fire phone, whose high-profile flop ended in a $170m writedown.
The Echo devices a key portal for Amazon because of its proximity to customers, and the ability to listen to them and respond to their needs. The company has sold “tens of millions” of Alexa-enabled devices worldwide.
Intent to double down on areas of proven success and to take risks in new technologies by Amazon is exhibited by its plans for Alexa.
Already a mainstay of the smart home is internet-connected security cameras. And even as other smart-home devices struggle to connect with mainstream consumers, the fact that a home camera can be a popular accessory has been shown by popularity of products from start-ups such as Ring, August and Lighthouse, and big companies including Alphabet-owned Nest and Netgear.
The task of studying the smart-home market to see what other devices might make sense for the company to build has been given to Amazon’s secretive Lab 126 product development team.
But given the category is almost entirely unproven among consumers, the launching a pair of smart glasses, however, is an unexpected and riskier move.
Because of concerns about privacy, price and performance, Google Glass was scrapped before a full consumer launch after it was introduced with huge fanfare in 2012.
Including Vue, a start-up that raised $2.2m on Kickstarter last year for what it pitched as “the world’s first pair of smart glasses that are stylish and discreet” and Snap’s Spectacles that can shoot short bursts of video, other smart glasses experiments remain in their infancy.
Google’s Glass was made so controversial among privacy campaigners due to its camera and screen and Amazon’s glasses are likely to do away with the camera and screen. The poor battery life that plagued Google’s headset would also be improved by dropping those features.
Moving into the emerging market for “augmented reality” goggles by Amazon would be aided by the glasses which could provide it a platform for entering. Working on various headsets that would display digital images in front of the viewer’s eyes are Microsoft, Magic Leap, Apple and Facebook.
(Adapted from CNBC)