2nd May 2017

Big Sister watching you…? We look at the new Echo Look

Image Credit: Amazon Echo Look

*image credit: Amazon Echo Look 

With an estimated 4 billion selfies already floating around our digital world, news of a new device capable of taking full-length photos or short videos so people can get a 360-degree view of themselves should appeal to the fashion-conscious social media user. Amazon has unveiled its latest innovation – Echo Look, a new voice-controlled selfie camera that allows its artificial intelligence-powered assistant, Alexa, to give you fashion tips and tell you what to wear.

Still in beta testing mode, the device builds on the success of the voice-activated Alexa tools launched last year. But adding a camera which allows the device not only to hear, but also to see the user will push the limits of how comfortable people feel giving Amazon greater access into their homes. Big Sister is now well and truly watching you, even behind closed doors.

The positioning of Echo Look as the ultimate bedroom companion will certainly strike a wrong note for those already concerned about privacy. Yes, there is a button on the side to turn off both the camera and the always-listening microphone, but whether buyers will be happy installing what is essentially an internet-connected smart camera in their bedrooms remains to be seen.

The new camera functionality gives Alexa the ability to gather biometric data, such as employing voice and facial recognition. What Amazon intends to do with that information is not clear, but it certainly takes worries over cybersecurity and the amount of personal data stored on each of us to a new level.

Amazon is looking to take Alexa beyond the home setting and is already working with Ford to integrate its skills into cars. Just how much access people will be willing to give to big brands into their lives going forwards remains to be seen; but at the moment there are enough of us willing to share personal data in return for the convenience and quirkiness offered by this new generation of devices to make it well worthwhile for businesses to continue to invest in this field.

For now at least, the bigger corporates have found a way to leverage technological innovations to overcome the growing trend of invasion of privacy concerns, persuading people to give up valuable personal information.