Alexa enable glasses – Amazon calls it progress. I am staying with the latest modern AI product called Echo Frames for two weeks. They are wearing glasses with small speakers and a microphone so you can have your conversation with Amazon’s Alexa Virtual Assistant.
This new Alexa version is more active chatting – and it pushed me bananas. “Washpost” tapped my glasses on my morning coffee to inform me of the news warning order. “Outlook,” Alexa said after minutes, interrupting an actual conversation with a proposal to read the latest email. Throughout the day, Alexa sent an app notification to my ear: “Slack”. Battery at 20 percent. “Possibilities.” More “expectations”.
After two weeks with $ 180 Eco Frames, I can report that you must love Alexa so that you can wear it on your face. But Tire takes a very good look at the latest technology in Virtual Assistant – and perhaps in our dystopia case as well. It is one of the first true “diamonds” on Amazon: wearable technology is designed to listen to information rather than to be seen.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post, but I review all technologies with a single critical glance.
To clarify, no image is displayed inside the frame lens, as was the case with Google Glass. Frames are the only sound trick from Amazon’s face computer to a strange, world-changing place. Apple, Microsoft and all major tech companies are also working on Smart Glass.
To develop Alexa as a sound computer first, the whole Amazon approach was like throwing spaghetti on the wall. Even the first Alexa product, the Echo speaker, was an experiment that Amazon initially sold on only one waiting list. After Echo’s big time as a virtual DJ, Amazon has tried to bring microphones or AI into a lot of things – such as cars, a FireTV broadcast box and even toilets – with no knockout winners.
But spaghetti is still flying in Seattle. Amazon launched a panel discussion called Frames and Loop in the fall of 2019, calling them “Day One” testing products. This means, at least initially, that Amazon only sells to customers who control it on the waitlist – and it will not allow those customers to leave product reviews on Amazon. Nine months later, we are late for an independent review.
I rate any new device in two categories: What good thing does it say about performance? Will you fill a valuable job in my life?
The idea of Alexa glasses, unlike Alexa headphones (which Amazon also started selling last fall), is that they are always with you. And as a constant connection with Alexa, Frames barely finds work. Echo frames have small speakers that point to your ears, so you should listen to Alexa audio, phone calls, or music. Until you increase the volume to the maximum, people around you will not notice it.
But Alexa’s presence as a constant companion to non-virtual people is entangled. From afar, you are talking to yourself. Close, Alexa is not smart enough to know when to talk to another human, so sometimes she breaks up with a random voice. (Just try to explain, “Oh, sorry, my glasses are talking to me now.”) And I live in fear that someone close will mention the name “Alexa” and spontaneously activate it. (If you remember, you can disable the microphone by double-clicking the button.)
Getting calls on the planks was a good thing, although I twice accidentally suspended callers by cleaning one of the touch-sensitive glasses.
Other companies like Bose also have specs acting as amplifiers and have been well-reviewed. Amazon frames I find too thin. At 1.2 ounces, the frames weigh twice as much as my regular sunglasses, although they can be tolerated. As far as style is concerned, I say sleek black thick plastic frameset. (You buy regular specs for the frame separately.)
My biggest technical problem was driving them. The battery of frames never works during the day – it bursts after three hours of continuous streaming of music at 60% volume.
Flexes receive their Internet connection from your smartphone via Bluetooth, which sometimes peels off, causing Alexa to disconnect. It also means that your phone should always be nearby which is not always for me at home. More than this: If you need to hold your phone, you already have Siri or Google Assistant within easy reach.
But suppose you belong to the Alexa tribe, which has many voice assistant enthusiasts. What do you always get from Alexa? Amazon did not let me talk to the product manager of Frames about the big idea. But it’s clear that Amazon, which no longer makes smartphones, wants to make an Alexa mobile, so we’ll use it more – and of course, so you can collect more data about our lives.
The frame helped meet the occasional need to answer questions or add to my shopping list on the go. She provided site-specific information, though she did not have much knowledge of San Francisco’s taco options. (She recommends free Friday tacos over long John Silver.)
I was able to multitask while cooking. But after the novelty stopped, I wasn’t able to get much use for Alexa. Certainly, the epistemic life that keeps me at home has not helped: Who needs audio-activated glasses in a house full of smart speakers?
What’s really new about Frames – and crazy – Alexa can talk to you without asking you. When you receive a new message on your phone, Alexa will read it aloud. The same goes for updates and you can get almost any alert from the mobile app. (At the moment, the App Alert function only works with Android phones and only when you activate it.)
Listening things are less intrusive than they are seen on other screens, but all the Frames Alert whispers quickly. When I learned how to use the “VIP” tire filter, you can be more selective about the alert – swipe the tire stem to accept the alert, and to prevent it from getting once. Tap But it is a rough candidate.
Being active is Alexa’s next big Amazon idea. In a 2019 interview with MIT Technology Review, Alexa Chief Scientist Rohit Prasad said that Amazon wants Alexa to walk away from waiting for an answer and hoping for what you want – and even your Organize life too.
Perhaps the tires were designed for the workplace? I can imagine Amazon working with them to get warehouse workers to pick up and pack instructions faster than looking at the bottom of the screen.
But for most of us, Amazon hasn’t brought many new things to the table. Apple Watch had only one problem with repeating phone alerts until we found out that its killer app is fitness and wellness.
If you buy Echo Frames today, Amazon will mostly help you find Alexa development, but in reality, Amazon should pay you for it.
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