Amazon breaks down what makes Echo Frames special – and what’s next
First launched to the general public last year, the Echo Frames are smart glasses in a traditional form. No wild lenses like on Snapchat Shows or a mini projector like on Google Glass. In our review from last December, we found that Echo Frames had done a good job of showing the futuristic perspective of having Alexa at our disposal and calling anytime, anywhere. At $ 250, however, they weren’t the cheapest. Especially with Warby parker offering frames and lenses for $ 100.
Amazon now offers three new lenses that can be linked Echo frames: blue light And two sunglasses glasses. To discuss this deployment and the creation of Echo Frames, CNN Underscored had an exclusive conversation with Jean Wang, the director of Echo Frames. We started with two new variations of the frames and tackled the development of Amazon’s smart glasses.
Amazon is now launching three new lens options for Echo frames. Blue light lenses, polarized black sunglasses glasses and blue mirror sunglasses lenses are available now for $ 269.99. None of these change the intelligence packed inside; they’re just different types of lenses in the same frame. And you can still get the regular Echo frames with blank clear lenses for $ 250.
These templates provide a new entry point for potential Echo Frames customers while responding to user feedback. We even asked where a blue frame option was in our review.
“We have thought about providing utility and pleasure to customers who do not naturally wear prescription frames,” says Wang. Amazon aims to offer an all-in-one solution from the moment you order. You won’t need to replace regular Echo Frames lenses with a blue light or sunglasses option. Those who need corrective lenses will still need to do so.
The blue light filtering and sunglasses options come at a time when many United States are poised to pick up the pace after more than a year of lockdown due to the pandemic. It makes sense that Amazon is launching a pair of working Echo frames, with polarized (and cool looking) blue mirror finishes.
The addition of blue light lenses is welcome, as it reduces the amount of blue light emitted from devices like phones, tablets, and laptops that can hit your eyes. In the real world, it should reduce eye strain for people who have to stay in front of a screen for long periods of time. We haven’t used the new lenses yet, but they look pretty sharp in renderings and photos.
Wang and the Amazon team wanted the end product to be familiar, knowing that a good percentage of users would likely be prescription carriers. She noted that the design process included “a lot of interaction with optometrists [and] opticians to see how they fit and to make it just as transparent.
That way there wouldn’t be a lot of extra work to fit properly. Echo frames for a user or to install corrective lenses. We went through this process with our day one editions and the final product. Amazon includes an optometrist card in the box with Echo Frames, which details the correct manners of shaping the glasses as well as installing the lenses. Wang further explains that they tested multiple versions of the map to bring all the crucial details together into one complete solution. And in our experience, it really wasn’t that hard. We took our Echo Frames to our personal optometrist and asked if they could do the installation. There were a few looks and questions about what smart glasses are, but after those it was a standard time frame of a few days to install the frames.
Jacob Krol / CNN
A key element of our conversation with Jean Wang was on “why smart glasses? And what exactly the executives offer the everyday user.
“We have that kind of north star vision for technology that allows customers to engage in the real world so they can hear what’s around them while still giving hands-free access to Alexa and all information, content. and the services it provides, “Wang says. And that matches our testing – with built-in microphones, speakers, and a smartphone internet connection, Echo Frames gave us instant access to Alexa. is a similar experience to a smart speaker or an Echo smart display.
She sums it up pretty well as “technology that is really there when you need it and fades in the background when you don’t need it.” While you’re in the house, you can ask Alexa to make a list, add something to your Amazon cart (or even buy it), play music, or send an announcement to your tops. – connected speakers. It’s the classic Alexa experience but centralized and privatized for you.
For example, instead of pausing an echo that could play throughout your house, you can simply pose the request personally to your executives. Or if you are at home with family or friends, you can request a personal request without disturbing others. It’s also a good way to send a surprise broadcast to your other Alexa-enabled devices. The best interactions in our tests, however, happen when you’re on the go, as you can list or make any other requests with your hands free.
Alexa actually picks up your voice through two microphones located on the front of the hinge of the Echo frames. Wang explains that it “brings microphones much closer to your mouth than normal headphones.” It powers the Alexa experience and allows your voice to be heard in a variety of environments, whether you’re whispering at a desk or giving commands in a noisy train station.
Open-ear speakers are found on the left and right stems of the Echo frames to project audio in a personal bubble around you. And while headphones have made the speakers smaller and smaller, “the speakers are actually bigger,” as Wang explains. “[The sound transmission] is far from your ear and it generates a sound like in the sphere. To fill this space, you need a larger speaker that is always identified specifically to the user. Since not everyone around you needs to hear what you are saying, Wang notes that “we have optimized our sound quality for voice, which is not too heavy and does not promote leakage.” And that full speaker, along with the rest of the hardware, was designed in-house by Amazon.
And this emphasis on audio quality was one of the three key parameters that Wang explained to us. Leak and Loudness were the other two keys. This involved Wang, along with his team, trying Echo frames in a variety of scenarios. Some of them could be recreated in a testing lab, while others required that they be made public. “There were times when we would all walk down the street together trying to keep the person wearing the frames from being seen by other people because we were a confidential program. Definitely a fun time to test or try to be low key, ”Wang describes. Ultimately, after testing the exterior and interior, they found “a great point where we can mask the leak (i.e. the sound someone could hear from the Echo Frames). ), while making the wearer hear.
In our testing, we found that the Echo frames do quite well, while Bose frames end up emitting too much sound sometimes. It ended up bothering our office colleagues and other commuters on the train. Wang shares that the spot is around 12 to 18 decibels of sound. This level needs to be strong enough for the end user to benefit as well.
Jacob Krol / CNN
Echo frames feature a rounded rectangular lens designed to be one size fits all for all types of people. Amazon has tested a bunch of shapes – “from more masculine shapes, such as aviators, to more feminine shapes, such as cat eyes. [was] This rectangular shape ended up being very attractive, ”says Wang.
In fact, Wang explains that they “increased the lens aperture height and width to accommodate larger populations.” It’s a smart move that also reduces the number of different SKUs that Amazon has to provide. This approach is different from Bose, which offers several styles of frames (circular and rectangular designs) that may appeal to different users. However, you don’t have that choice with Echo frames, even on newer styles of lenses.
Likewise, it is a unique solution for the Echo frames themselves. In our testing, we noted that the Echo frames had a somewhat fragile feel even though carbon fiber, aluminum, and a TR-90 plastic were the materials involved. These are lightweight bezels at 31 grams, but they sagged a little more than we liked. “The possibility of having not a rigid front frame, for example, but the spring hinge [Amazon’s proprietary design] allows [it] to accommodate many types of face sizes and shapes, ”says Wang. Since you can’t go to a store and gear up for the Echo frames, it makes sense that they have to go for a wider build or at least one with more flexibility.
“I fundamentally believe that technology should help us be more human or be able to engage with each other. And so I think that’s part of the foundation of Echo Frames, which creates something that helps us get involved in what matters most in our lives, ”Wang said. More than any other Amazon Device product, Frames established itself as an inherently personal product that the team really needed to function well.
however, Echo frames not an instant buy for everyone at $ 250. These three new lens options solve the “right, if I don’t wear glasses they’re not for me” problem, but they’re even more expensive at $ 269.99. We asked about the potential of a lower-priced pair, but Wang says “we’ll continue to listen to customers and see what makes sense out there.” So no promises, but we could see something in the next generation. Historically, some Amazon devices, like the Echo streamers and Fire TV, have seen their starting prices drop across the board.
“These are smart executives who are alive in a way that, you know, they can get updates, they can improve their intelligence,” says Wang. And unlike a typical pair of glasses, Echo Frames gives you access to Alexa, music on the go, stories, news, and really whatever you want to ask the assistant.