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Review of the Amazon Echo Look – Better selfie taker than stylist

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I’m definitely someone who would benefit from the Echo Look and its stand-alone camera, designed to snap photos of your daily outfits, and suggesting clothes to suit your style. I relished the excuse to take full-length selfies on a daily basis, under the pretense of improving my already superb taste.

Summary

The Echo Look, a voice-enabled camera perfect for daily full-length photos and videos of outfits. Although the quality is too poor to stream music, it does double as an Alexa speaker. If you don’t mind an algorithm or stranger telling you what to wear, you’ll find the Echo Look useful.

Setup

Setup is easy enough. Simply plug into the wall, open the Echo Look up, and add new device. After pairing, select the WiFi network to enable Alexa. As an Alexa speaker, it can play music and be asked to set timers. Don’t rely on it for tunes though, as the audio quality is horrible. Amazon is aware of this, saying its focus is on the depth-sensing camera, in contrast to the audio quality of other Echo devices.

It’s recommended to be placed at shoulder height, facing slightly downwards. I preferred a lower angle (check or midriff), but it’s up to you – the Echo Look app provides a viewfinder to adjust.

Despite the four bulbs on the Look, make sure it’s positioned with a light source behind the camera to avoid looking overexposed. Not just a vanity matter – Amazon requires good pics to determine color/style/fit.

In use

Once setup, the fun stuff begins. “Alexa, take a photo (or video)”, pose, and you’ll have the pictures on your phone within seconds. Amazon will also suggest 9 poses to start you off, if you’re a little lost.

The pictures can be hit-or-miss. The Look first identifies your silhouette, then blurs the background in order to make you stand out. The bokeh does look exaggerated, but can be tweaked in app, alongside brightness and contrast.

No settings can be adjusted for video – simple a 6 second loop to view yourself from all angles. This is nice, as you don’t often get to view yourself from all angles without another’s help.

Neither images or clips are stunning, but with a little effort you’ll still produce IG worthy shots. Photos aren’t automatically downloaded to your handset, but can be sent to a Google Photos library. Your phone’s own camera can be used too, if looking to document an outfit when without your Echo Look.

Not all about selfies, Amazon can do more with your photos, such as sort into collections (Spring, Summer, Dresses etc.) It can also filter by color, although this was inaccurate at times (mistaking a pink/yellow/blue outfit for gray – hopefully a white balance error).

I don’t see much use for these collections, other than to reminisce or see what colors I primarily wear – something gathered from a quick look in my wardrobe instead.      Somewhat unimpressive.

Style Check will compared two outfits side by side, using fit, color, cohesiveness to tell you which is better. Of course, there’s so much nuance to why you’d pick a particular item, that a machine won’t really fully grasp. Apparently more flattering, it chose a boxier black top for my gray skirt, while I preferred the other option of a white V-neck with ruffled neckline.

I’m not sure I trust an algorithm to best determine what shape or fit is best for me. We all swing from form-fitting black dresses, to loose-fitting, flowy conservative options. Clarifying occasion would help, but since you can’t do this, you can at least inform Look of your personal tastes. Still, human-written algorithms to determine ‘good’ shapes is too easy a way to exacerbate problematic beauty standards.

Alternatively, share your looks with Amazon’s specialists for input. Not being comfortable with this, it took me a while to try out. You have to choose which photos/videos to exclude, or all will be sent to the specialists – this is very clearly the backwards approach, under the guise of convenience. Since I’ve used the feature, I’ve yet to receive personal recommendations, or any Amazon items similar to my clothes.

Scared of your Look being hacked, and used to spy on you? The button on the right of device turns off the camera and mutes the Look, meaning the camera won’t respond if you’re using other Alexa devices in the house. Of course, this isn’t as safe as an actual shutter covering the camera. Maybe throw a t-shirt over it to be safe.

Wrap-up

Amazon’s ultimate goal is to recommend new clothes for you to buy. It’s nice this feature is opt-in, and you’re not forced to consume new clothing daily, but then what’s the point of the Look? OOTD selfie taking I guess. I wouldn’t let the algorithm decide my clothing choices, so full-length selfies seems to be the best feature. That and obsessively chronicling your daily looks. If you’re after a little style advice, save your $200 and ask friends instead.