For five minutes after I saw the Amazon Look press release in my inbox, I kept saying to myself, “This is an April Fool’s joke, right?” I was not alone.
But the introduction of a $ 200 video camera that has all the features of an Amazon Echo, plus the sensibilities of a style maven, was real. So I requested my invite like many other tech and fashion journalists did. Then I began to consider the implications of the product.
Like many, I questioned whether the machine learning that Amazon will employ to judge my outfits would be stylish enough to make good calls. But I was mostly impressed with Amazon’s idea. This is a brilliant product idea if you consider that Amazon’s goal in producing new hardware is to help you purchase more products from Amazon. With this product, Amazon can get a clear sense of what’s in my closet and what types of clothes I like. From there it can recommend all kinds of products.
Fashion is one of the areas where Amazon struggles in part because people like to try on clothes. But it isn’t giving up. Given knowledge about what clothes and brands a customer wears and how those fit, it becomes much easier to push products in the right size. Nordstrom and other retailers have used this to boost online sales and reduce returns.
Along with the potential to recommend products, Amazon is going to get a clear look at what I have in my closet. This means it could offer suggestions about what to wear, solving a problem that millions have on a regular basis as they stand in front of their closets pondering their choices. It will also offer valuable data about the spread of trends in fashion, cut and color.
This assumes that people use the device. I see this as an Alexa for your closet, yet I’m not keen on having a camera in my closet for all kinds of privacy reasons. So while I’m fine giving Amazon the data on my clothing in hopes of having to spend less time worrying if something looks bad, I’m not willing to put a camera in my house.
I think there are a lot of people who may feel the same way, even if we are supposedly entering the age where the camera gains more influence as an input device than a keyboard.
I am aware that Amazon must have done considerable research and discovered a need that it feels will overcome the reservations associated with a camera in your closet. After all, plenty of people still look at me funny for having an always-on microphone in my house.
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