Amazon has been busy building their platform for voice control. Two new products have been announced in the past couple of weeks, and it is a very interesting direction that Amazon is taking. The beauty of the original Echo device, along with the follow-ups Echo Dot and Echo Tap, was that they were audio only. This was in sharp contrast to previous voice assistants such as Siri, Google Now or Cortana. They all used a screen as a secondary output device which the voice assistant could funnel results to, and does so frequently.
Although some people are not aware of the Alexa Companion App, it too provided a second secreen that Alexa sometimes funneled results to. It makes sense in many ways that although the device is voice (or audio) only, there are still times when "A picture is worth a thousand words", and so somtimes a large definition or a map would appear in the Companion App and Alexa would tell us as such.
The Amazon Look started the excitement (and to some confusion) last week by having a new form factor.....a camera. The camera is not just for anythying, because it allowed the fashion conscious consumer to have her picture taken in different outfits. Those pictures would be stored in the cloud and then allowed fancy machine learning to compare them and (somehow) let the user know which outfit was considered better. by better it meant the one that looked best on you.
The big feature (for Amazon) seems to be one of gaining more knowledge. We all know that machine learning requires lots of data. By having people send their data, Amazon is learning more about their customers. Let's say our user with the Echo Look eventually has all her outfits available to Alexa, it will know alot about what the user likes. All the pictures are in sunny weather. Hmmm. All the pictures are in casual clothes. Hmmm. Each of these gives Amazon more information about their customer and how to serve her better. Wouldn't it be interesting if Amazon started suggesting new clothes that it felt the user would like. Or alternatives that might round-out the wardrobe.
The other announcement of interest is that of the Echo Show. This product ships at the end of June. It adds to the base features by having a seven inch touch screen. The touch screen feature lets the user interact with the touch screen, asking for you tube videos to be played. It is probably fair to think that any of your Amazon digital content should be able to be played back on it too.
But what is really huge with the Echo Show is the combination of the camera and screen to provide both voice and video calling features. This is very similar to what Facetime is about, yet for a hands free device that sits on the counter and the battery never wears out (because it is plugged in).
The calling feature seems like a good idea. There was a time-and-day when people have these things called telephones, now called land lines, which had a dedicated purpose of communicating. On top of that, with the Echo Show this is all hands free. Amazon seems to be capitalizing on the most popular feature of the Echo products: convenience and time savings. No longer does someone have to walk over to the land line to dial a phone number. They can be hands deep in the middle of making bread, and call their chef father up for cooking guidance.
Knowing what Amazon's main business is (seeling stuff), it doesn't take much to realize that the Echo is seen as a device to help Amazon sell us products by making it incredibly convenient and easy to order things. All the surrounding Amazon products, like Prime and The Fire TV also point to the fact that Amazon is selling hardware products to make ordering and buying easier.