As Amazon is preparing to roll out their Echo Frames, the anticipation for all-day Alexa access is growing. Whether you’re on the road or at the bar, you’ll have access to all of Alexa’s powers with your voice. Echo Frames could be the next step in wearables.
There is a lot to know about this Amazon product. We have created this comprehensive guide to tell you everything there is to know about this upcoming wearable from one of the biggest companies in the world.
What Can Echo Frames Do?
The better question would be ‘what can the Echo Frames not do?’ This hands-free wearable is going to give you all-day access to Alexa. Simply use the ‘Hey Alexa’ command to get her attention, and then tell her what you want to do. Whether it be setting a reminder, listening to your favorite podcast, or even control the lights in your room, the Echo Frames have you covered.
These aren’t glasses that cover your ears. Unlike competing brands that have the same technology, Amazon is looking to leave you open to the world around you while still immersing you in the world of Amazon’s services.
Anything you are able to do with your Android smartphone or your Alexa at your home, you’ll be able to do with these glasses.
As of right now, the only phones that are compatible with this wearable is the Android devices. It will requite the Alexa app for connectivity, and it will be working with your existing smartphone data plan. This means that unless you have a Android device, you won’t have any connectivity with these glasses, and they will be a heavier pair of whatever other prescription glasses you are wearing.
Connectivity with iOS devices are in the works, but getting buy-in from both sides seems unlikely right now. With Apple working on their own wearable devices, giving their loyal customers a reason to buy a competing wearable seems less than ideal right now. If you are working with any iOS device, continuity and convince won’t be in store for you if you are trying to get a pair of the Echo Frames.
Invite Only… For Now
The Echo Frames aren’t available for mass purchase. They are by invite only. You have to be an Amazon Prime member and also fill out a questionnaire. If the company likes the answers you provided, you’ll be sent a link at which you can purchase the glasses. Saying you are invited, the glasses will only see you back $180 at the time of this writing.
If you aren’t invited, your options are slim. You can check the resale market, but it is looking slim right now. Not many people are looking to sell theirs, as there is a high usage among the people that are receiving the frames. If you do find a pair on the resale market, you can expect the price to be jacked up to a point of questioning the return the product will give you.
If you aren’t invited and you wait for the Echo Frames to hit the market, you are going to be paying $250. For a pair of glasses without any display, the cost may seem steep. That is because it is. With that being said, some people are going to pay for the price to have Amazon listening to them at all times.
No AR Yet
Some are claiming that this is Amazon’s attempt at AR glasses. We don’t think it is. there is no mention of augmented reality or a digital overlay. If Amazon was aiming to crack open that side of the industry, wouldn’t they attempt to market the product better? Some people have yet to hear about these glasses. They are simply in the testing phase.
There is an argument to be made that these glasses are ‘augmenting reality’ by adding constant Alexa to your life. We understand that, and if thats what you want your reality to augmented by, we understand. With companies doing this but with a digital overlay on the real world, it would be hard for us to justify this as AR glasses that are going to compete with any of the high-end companies that are putting in millions of dollars to their glasses.
One of the questions when filling out the questionnaire is the use of prescription glasses in your day-to-day life. If you answer that you use glasses and wear them for over 10 hours a day, you are much more likely to get a chance to buy the Echo Frames at a discount and earlier than the common consumer. If you know what kind of prescription you use, the size of your glasses, and much more, you are going to get an invite.
This plays a major role in the use of their glasses. They don’t want people to feel like they have to wear the glasses. They want people that are already using glasses to find use in having Alexa around at all hours.
Once you receive your pair of glasses, it will be easy to have your specific lens. Amazon states that you can simply take it to your eye-care provider and they can switch the common glass out for your prescription. Since there is no digital overlay or AR functionality, the glasses will be the same as any other pair you want to have fitted.
No Cameras – More Microphones
There aren’t any cameras on the Echo Frames, but that doesn’t mean your privacy is guaranteed. You won’t have to worry about pictures or videos of you getting out across the world, but that doesn’t mean what you say and hear won’t be used in targeted advertising.
Luckily for those that are concerned by this, Amazon has provided a way for users to see when Alexa or Amazon is listening to you. On the inside of the frames, you’ll see a blue light glow up when Alexa is activated. If you choose to, you can hear a chime when you have her attention too.
With that being said, any Echo Dot owner knows that there are times you feel like your smart home device was listening without your consent and permission. Like other Amazon products, they are going to keep your voice recordings.
What Amazon Does with Recordings
According to Amazon, “an extremely small fraction of voice recordings are manually reviewed,” which means real people are listening to you and your interactions with your smart glasses. With these glasses being on all day, and with the questionable security of the recordings, users will rightfully be questioning the price they are paying for Amazon and Alexa to listen to them all day.
The exact specs of these glasses are still in the works. We know that they are geared for “all-day” use, but what does that mean? If you are moderately calling upon Alexa to do some work for you, they’ll last all day. But if you are consistently asking her to do work for you while you stream podcasts and music, you are going to see your battery die quicker than usual.
There is a Touch Bar on the side of the glasses. This can be used for gestures, and each gesture can be defined on the Alexa Home app on your Android device. You can also set up your glasses to speak to you when notifications come in. This all can be changed and altered in your companion smartphone app.
This isn’t the AR glasses we were hoping for from Amazon, but it definitely is a start. We will continue to update you as more information is released from Amazon. For more VR and AR news, make sure to check back at VRGear.com.