Taking a First Look at the Echo Look

A quick review of my first 45 minutes with the Echo Look.

Photo from The Verge

This week, I managed to snag one of those limited invites to buy an Echo Look (thanks Amazon). This pairs nicely with some of the Alexa skill projects I’ve been working on, so I was very excited to test it out. Hoping that I would cajole everyone at work give it a spin, I had it shipped to the office.

As soon as it came in the mail, I ripped it out of the box and screwed the top portion into a tripod I ordered from Amazon (which was surprisingly flimsy and short compared to the stand the device comes with) and started looking around the office to find a place to put it.

Side Note: Amazon did make the Echo Look with an option to mount it to the wall, but I hardly think that I would feel comfortable doing that in the privacy of my bedroom, and I cannot think of where else I would put it at home. I also don’t think people would be happy if I started drilling into the walls at work. Suffice to say that for privacy and wall safety, I had to find something to set it on.

The device needs to be around shoulder height to take good photos so I dragged a bar table with a few cardboard boxes piled on top into a conference room with the help of a co-worker, and plugged in the device for the first time. Instead of reading any instructions, I opened up my iPhone, and went to the regular Alexa app to try and install the device, which I had done for the Echo Dot, Echo Spot and Echo Show. There was nothing in there related in any way to my new device, so I went back to the documents that came in the box. Silly me, there is another app for that! So I went to the app store, downloaded the Echo Look app, and followed the set up prompts. Just like the main Alexa app, you are forced to watch the instruction video.

Once I got through that rigamarole, I selected the camera option from the nav and was prepared to be amazed. Yes, taking a photo from a voice command was very fun, and after the 15 minutes of adjusting my box tower and the angle of the camera on the tripod, I got some pretty good results! However, there is one part of the experience that I found extremely disconcerting: trying to look at myself on my phone while taking the photo.

Maybe this problem is solved when you put the camera in a bedroom near a full length mirror, but in an age of selfies, I am very well trained to look at my phone. In the app you can see how you look, but what you see is from the perspective of the Echo Look camera across the room. I continued moving the phone and staring at it, repositioning myself in the context of my held device, as if that would change the angle of the image. As I invited people in to have their photos taken, anyone who glanced at the app before taking a photo did the same thing. This, along with no reference guide on how to stand if you ignored the phone, made getting a great photo really difficult. Most of my co-workers gave up after their first bad image. Amazon, what do I do without a reflection to teach me how to pose? Help!

After getting over my sadness of not being able to see myself, I ended up with a collection of images of yours truly and my office mates (I bet this is gonna confuse my Amazon account). I used style check to compare myself to a gentleman friend, and after a few minutes Amazon wrote back that I could only compare myself to, well, me. Without instant access to my closet I had to wait a day to actually compare outfits. I have a lot of questions about the assumptions Amazon has about how people will use the device — are they supposed to hoard it for themselves, what happens when you share with people you live with, is this not supposed to be fun thing to use when friends come over?

Overall, the device is interesting and takes high quality images even if I can never seem to get the angle or look on my face quite right. If you don’t mind that the app is a little clunky (similar to the original Alexa app) or that you will never look like the people in the instructional videos, this can be can interesting way to review your outfits. Soon I will test out how good their fashion advice is, but if we’re really being honest, I don’t think machine learning is in a place yet to influence what I wear. Or get me to start buying clothes from Amazon. We shall see.

Do you have an Echo Look? I would love to hear your thoughts on the overall user experience and if you’ve actually changed what you wear as a result.

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Vanessa Garber

Geek, Philosophy Nerd, Hiker, Women in Product Chapter Lead and Product Innovation Leader on Sabbatical