Amazon’s Echo Frames
When Amazon introduced their Echo Frames in September of 2019, I was hesitant about purchasing them. After seeing the failure of Google Glass, as well as the Snapchat Spectacles, the whole idea seemed like another smart glasses gimmick that was doomed to fail. I did use Alexa for reminders and to keep track of many things at home, but would I really want her in my head all day long? Not likely. However, my opinion quickly changed in July 2020, when my invitation for Day One editions was accepted and a pair arrived for me to test.
There was much more to the Echo Frames than just Alexa. The frames are grade TR-90, carbon fiber, and titanium, making them light-weight with a comfortable fit, perfect for all-day use. They also come with instructions to give to your eye doctor if you need to add prescription lenses. And with open-ear audio technology, you can listen to podcasts, music, or audiobooks, take phone calls, and hear notifications discreetly while still being aware of your surroundings. The position of the 4 micro speakers directs sound to your ears while at the same time minimizes what everyone around you can hear — and according to Amazon.com, the second generations will also auto-adjust volume based on the noise level of your environment. While open-ear audio headphones aren’t a new technology, the quality of the audio on the Frames is amazing and much better than I have experienced with other open-ear audio products.
Obviously, the key feature the Echo Frames is built around is the virtual assistant. With the Frames, you have hands-free access to Alexa no matter where you are. While I initially saw this part as the gimmick that most likely wouldn’t be utilized, and thereby make the Frames meaningless, having constant access to Alexa has been a godsend. The reason for my initial negative view towards it was because of the virtual assistant created by Apple, Siri. While Siri was a brilliant idea, Apple has yet to do much with it, while Amazon has gone all-in on Alexa and Echo technology. So, because of the limited features of Siri, I immediately assumed the same with the now “to-go version” of Alexa. With Alexa built into the Frames, I can now take care of tasks without having to take out my phone. Whether it’s quickly adding something to my shopping list, ordering an essential item that I keep forgetting about, setting reminders for future tasks, such as reminding me to call someone back at or by a certain time, and I am able to control my smart home products such as telling Alexa to turn off my compatible lights if I think I forgot to do so, or using the drop-in feature to ask a family member a quick question while I’m at work. The Echo Frames have up to 4 hours of continuous audio playback on a full charge, and — much like their other Alexa products — are designed with privacy in mind, with all interactions with Alexa being encrypted and securely stored within Amazon’s cloud. The microphone responds to the voice of the person wearing the frames and you can turn it it off at any time, and if you enable voice recording deletion on your Alexa app, you can use the Frames to delete voice recordings.
Amazon’s Echo Frames are the first real smart-glasses on the market that will be hard to compete with. By having Alexa and Echo technology on numerous products that all work together, they continue to be pioneers in modern convenience, creating a smart-lifestyle that is built on both accessibility and functionality. With the generation-2’s boasting even more improvements based on feedback from beta testers, they are a useful and welcome addition to the Alexa product line.