Sunday, October 15, 2017

Your Very Own Judgey Robot Stylist? Amazon's Echo Look is Cool but Creepy

"Open the closet doors, Hal..."

File this one under Things That Are Great...Except That They Are Also Probably Terrible.  Amazon is rolling out the Echo Look -- an innocuous looking little robot, surveillance camera, device that promises to be your personal stylist, fashion photographer and brutally savage fashion critic all in one.  From the comfort of your home, and prompted by the sound of your voice, the Echo Look will take hands-free, full-length photos and videos of you to build "your own personal Look Book."

I didn't know I needed a personal Look Book, but the idea makes Instagram #stylechallenge collage photos seem soooooo 2015.

There are a lot of tech bells and whistles involved from a depth camera and self-adjusting LED lighting to background blurring that will "make your outfits pop."  It all works with the cloud-based Alexa -- Amazon's weirdly all-knowing AI virtual assistant who reminds me of Scarlet Johansson's character in Her, except kind of sinister and with no sense of humor. 

Alexa!  Does this make my butt look big?

The most horrifying interesting feature of Echo Look is something called Style Check.  Select a few outfit pictures from your Look Book photos, and let the Echo Look tell you which one is the best choice.  It combines complicated algorithms with "advice from style gurus" to find the answer, offering you a daily opportunity to experience what it's like to be featured on an episode of Fashion Police.  Not enough superficial, soul-crushing judgment in your life?  Echo Look promises to keep it Kardashian-level real.  

I always thought Alexa sounded like a mean girl. 

The Echo Look is already generating a lot of buzz, but I can't help but think it's part of an elaborate practical joke -- like the April Fools prank when YouTube pretended it would be taking down all videos except the "best one."

While I adore fashion, I don't think we need yet another cloud-based repository for what is becoming a culture of narcissistic consumerism.  I am clearly the wrong wrong WRONG target for this product, so I won't be requesting a chance to check it out.  (As of now, Echo Look is available by invitation only.  You can request one here.) 

But don't let me kill your buzz!  A lot of style bloggers are excited about the hands-free aspect of fashion photos, and the integration with all of the other Alexa features means that after you are properly styled for a party, Alexa will also check the weather to see if you need to add a jacket.

Be sure to watch the Echo Look promo video at the top of this post, and check out Lauren Goode's full review for the Verge below.  

Lauren Goode details the Echo Look

It's a brave new world, girls.