Echo Frames are Amazon’s answer to Google Glass, but powered by Alexa

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The explosion of wearable devices a few years ago saw a number of different form factors hit the market, with one of the more divisive being eyewear, and Google Glass being the most notable. Google Glass has since moved into the enterprise space to find some users, but now Amazon is entering the wearable fray by debuting its new Echo Frames.

These wearables were part of a number of devices that the firm revealed during an Echo-focused event earlier this week.

While it is a little difficult to cover Amazon hardware announcements here in South Africa, mainly as its digital assistant Alexa is not supported locally, with some AWS data centres spinning up in Cape Town next year, perhaps there is room for hardware too.

With that said let’s see what Amazon has cooked up for the Echo Frames.

Looking very similar to Google Glass, the Frames feature a relatively simple black design, with the arms of the glasses housing much of the processing capabilities of the wearable. If you’re expecting some sort of AR functionality, you’re out of luck, with Amazon instead using the Frames to bring Alexa support to your face.

We haven’t had the chance to try them on, but looking at other international tech publications, it appears as if the Echo Frames are designed to be fairly inconspicuous and not look out-of-place when compared to a normal set of reading glasses.

The trick though is that you’ll be able to ask Alexa a bunch of questions, like you would with one of Amazon’s Echo speakers. The digital assistant then responds for only the wearer to hear, and not the people around them, in what Amazon calls Open Ear technology.

Standby time for the Echo Frames is 14 days according to Amazon, with it also catering for 3 hours of audio playback before needing a recharge, which likely means you’ll be using Alexa intermittently during the day in order to converse battery life.

The Frames are already up on Amazon’s US ecommerce site, but availability to purchase is by invitation only. Should you crack a nod, it will cost $179.99 (~R2 706). For now there is no mention of when or indeed if Amazon plans to launch the wearables outside of the US.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.