It will come as a surprise to nobody who has ever met me that fashion is not exactly my raison d'être. Indeed, my wardrobe is primarily built up of affordable (cheap) jeans and 'quirky' t-shirts, with the occasional plaid dress shirt thrown in for good measure. I dress like a reject from a bad 90s grunge band and I'm happy to admit it. I appreciate, however, that for many people choosing deciding on what to wear is a genuine concern, one that could potentially take up hours of your working week if you're particularly anal about your stylistic choices. Subservient fashion conscious individuals are soon to receive the answer to their prayers, however, with the launch of the Amazon Echo Look.
The Echo Look is the latest gizmo in Amazon's family of connected-home products, and is effectively little more than a very fancy camera. That is, however, all it really needs to be. The Look sits in (or beside) your wardrobe and takes a snapshot of your outfit before giving it a rating and offering a second opinion. The device is being marketed by the company as a fashion tool, with voice-activation allowing users to take full-length photos and short videos of their outfit choices. Prompted by the company's now almost iconic smart assistant, Alexa, the device then uses a new service named Style Check to offer feedback on the chosen look.
As users build up their own personal “lookbooks” with pictures and videos, the device is also able to recommend new brands and styles inspired by a user's most often worn outfits. As well as offering style advice, the Echo Look also performs the same duties as Amazon's other Echo devices and can devise travel routes, read headlines or play music.
Explaining the device and the Style Check service in more detail themselves, Amazon said: “Style Check keeps your look on point using advanced machine learning algorithms and advice from fashion specialists. Submit two photos for a second opinion on which outfit looks best on you based on fit, colour, styling and current trends. Over time, these decisions get smarter through your feedback and input from our team of experienced fashion specialists.”
Now, whilst being judged on your fashion choices by a machine might not sound ideal to everyone, I can definitely see the benefits here. How many times have us fashion-blind individuals been asked for opinions from our partners on their latest outfit? And how many times have those opinions added up to little more than a gentle shrug and a resigned “but you look great in everything” remark? The Look could potentially resign that awkward conversation to the recycling bin for all time. Of course, there is also the argument here that fashion and style is completely subjective, and is, for many, linked to one's personal sense of identity, something that could never hope to be replicated by an algorithm, no matter how smart it is. Or could it?
Currently, the Echo Look is available by invitation only for just over £150. It is unclear whether the company will roll out the device to the masses at a later date, but given the finished look of the device and the success of previous Echo devices, I wouldn't bet against it being the Christmas present for all tech-obsessed fashionistas this year. So prepare to hear your other half asking “Alexa, how do I look?” every morning from now until the the point Alexa finally becomes sentient and destroys us all.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK. For more Amazon news, check out his recent piece on the #NowItsSummer service.