A new gadget from Amazon wants to help you pick out your outfit

  • Apr. 28, 2017 12:30 a.m.

Soon, Amazon’s voice assistant will be able to answer your most burning question: Alexa, does this make my butt look big?

Amazon on Wednesday announced the Echo Look, a $200 voice-activated camera that will take full-length pictures of your outfits, by using the command “Alexa, take a photo.” It can also take videos – “Alexa, take a video” – to let you check yourself out from multiple angles, through a live feed from the Look beamed to your smartphone.

It is, essentially, the high-tech alternative to a friend. Or a mirror.

(Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

The Echo Look will require its own app on your phone to work. It is the first in the Alexa-powered family of Echo devices to carry a camera. All photos and video the Look records will be accessible through this app, although they are stored locally and in Amazon’s cloud. Users will be able to delete images at any time, said Amazon spokeswoman Michelle Taylerson.

Amazon has done a great job of making itself into a prime digital destination to do your errands. But it hasn’t quite established itself as a fashion authority yet, and Echo Look appears to be a bid to do that.

And yet, it is hard to see how the device does much to help Amazon on this front, because its functionality would seem to appeal to such a narrow slice of women.

Let’s start with the idea that it takes a full-length photo of you using a voice command, using a high-tech, depth-sensing camera that seems a bit overpowered for the job. Sure, millennials are selfie obsessed, but this sounds like something that would be used regularly only by influencers and other digital tastemakers. What real-world woman needs to start each day with a professional-looking, head-to-toe photo? It’s solving a problem that isn’t exactly universal.

It also lets you keep an archive of all your outfit photos – a feature that caters only to our self-indulgence, not one that does anything to make shopping or getting dressed meaningfully easier.

Then there’s the Style Check feature, which offers advice on which of multiple outfits to wear based on machine learning and “advice from fashion specialists.” The company says it will take into account trends and what is most flattering. But it is difficult to imagine women using this tool with much regularity: Who has time for this kind of consultation and deliberation around everyday dressing?

What the Echo Look does accomplish for Amazon is getting an Alexa-powered camera into your home. Depth-sensing cameras have been used to map out sophisticated 3D maps of rooms, objects and people, which opens up many possibilities for future, customized products. With Amazon promising more features for the camera are on their way, it’s likely we haven’t seen the ultimate end game of this device.

The Echo Look does not yet have a shipping date, but anyone can sign up for an invitation to buy it.

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