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Amazon unveils Echo Look, an AI powered camera that gives fashion advice

Amazon has launched an AI-powered “hands-free camera and style assistant” named Echo Look. The device can take pictures and short videos and also employs machine learning to algorithms to suggest outfits, which Amazon claims is built using “advice from fashion specialists”. The camera device is integrated with Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, and it pretty much does all operations performed by the Amazon Echo, except that Echo Look will have video input apart from voice input.

Echo Look will only be available on an invitations basis, with a price tag of $199.99. The device is the latest addition to Amazon’s already growing number of devices like the Amazon Fire TV Stick which was recently launched in India. Amazon has a series of smart home devices under its Echo brand, a number of media streaming devices under its Fire TV brand, tablets under the ‘Fire’ brand and the e-book reader Kindle. It head earlier discontinued the Fire smartphone back in September 2015 after it failed to impress consumers.

However, what sets apart the Echo and Fire TV is its inbuilt support for Alexa, an AI assistant which Amazon claims has 12,000 skills. These skills allow Echo and Fire TV customers to order food online, browse and discover content, get answers for questions from sponsored by portal like WebMD, and “more than 300 smart home skills to turn lights on or off, change light color, or even lock a door.”

 Amazon says it stores Echo data, but says will not share with third parties

So basically Amazon is using AI to learn user behaviour and build custom suggestions. These suggestions are based on the services and products that its users search or use. Now with a camera device, Amazon is able to collect visual data, and according to this Motherboard report, Amazon has confirmed that Echo Look will store photos, videos and other data in its AWS cloud storage system.  The report also quoted an Amazon official who said that “the company does not “provide any personal information to advertisers or to third party sites that display our interest-based ads.”

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Note that the Style Check feature built in Echo Look can assist users to determine what to wear on the basis of a “personal lookbook”. This means that the “lookbook” will be built or catalogued on the basis of yours clothes, and what you wear daily, points out a Wired report. But this will have an impact on user privacy. A prominent scientist and sociologist, Zeynep Tufekci points out on Twitter that with access to a multitude of data “Amazon won’t be able to just sell you clothes or judge you. It could analyze if you’re depressed or pregnant and much else.”

Amazon’s investment in India  

Amazon has also been investing heavily in India; it recently received a wallet license from the RBI and has already diversified its business into sectors like grocery deliveryVideo, and payments. Its core business segment, ecommerce, is already leading the market in terms of sales with a GMV of above $300 million as of August last year according to Forbes. In India, Amazon has invested close to Rs 2010 crore, with an overall commitment of Rs 7,000 crore in FY16.

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