Amazon Echo Look: What we don’t like about it by@hackernoon-archives

Amazon Echo Look: What we don’t like about it

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We love Amazon. We’re embarrassed to say how much our household spends on Amazon Prime, and we have an Amazon Echo right in our living room. Since we built an app that exists at the crossroads of fashion and technology, would couldn’t help notice when Amazon entered into the fashion technology space with their Amazon Echo Look. After carefully reviewing what it was and how it works, we’re pretty disappointed. Honestly, based the on conversations we have with our users, incorporating technology that judges your appearance is going to be pretty bad for your self-esteem.
Here are the issues we have with it:

Privacy

We’ll leave it up to security experts to weigh on internet-connected cameras in your home, but from our perspective: what’s not to like about photos of your body being broadcast across the internet? Amazon is one of the top technology companies on the planet, so if anyone can keep hackers from posting your photos online for body shamers to make fun of, it’s probably them. The fact is, though, accidents happen and data is leaked. We know this, so we take the precaution of blurring faces so that even if a hacker were to get hold of your photo, they couldn’t tie the photo back to you.

Lighting

To take a good full-body outfit photo, lighting is essential. In our home, the Amazon Echo sits in the living room where it’s pretty dark . This is good for watching TV but bad for taking selfies. All of the Amazon sample photos seem to have perfect lighting from multiple light sources…almost like they were staged for a professional photo shoot. Since most people don’t have a sun-room or photo studio at home, our guess is all the outfit shots will be under-exposed, and therefore darkly colored clothes will be reduced to blobs. You can see this in their “Introducing Style Check” side-by-side: you can barely make out any details about the dress the model is wearing. Considering there can be a massive difference in style between two dark articles of clothing, how is the Echo Look going to be able to pass an accurate judgment?

Angle

Angle is another big problem taking full-body outfit photos, and it takes a lot of adjusting the camera angle to capture the entire body. There are two ways to do this and the Amazon Echo Look sample photos use both:
The first is to elevate the camera and point it slightly downwards, like you do for a selfie. The photo samples for “See Your Style From Every Angle” are shot like this. We have our Amazon Echo on a side-table which is about thigh-high, but maybe there are people who have it up on a shelf and can put a shim behind it to point the camera down?
The second way is to stand way back and zoom in, which is what the “Introducing Style Check” photo sample does. If you don’t stand back, you’ll have to introduce a fisheye distortion to capture the whole body. In order to stand back from the camera, the Echo Look would have to be pointed in a direction that allows you to stand at least (we’re guessing) 10 feet from it. Thanks to furniture, most rooms don’t have 10 feet of unobstructed space, but maybe people will re-arrange rooms to create a runway between the Echo Look where they have to stand to take a good photo.

Judgmental Machines

Ever felt self-conscious about how you look? If not, don’t worry: the Amazon Echo Look has now automated body-image neurosis. Instead of looking at yourself in a mirror and saying, “I don’t know if I should wear this”, you can now get the opinion of one the world’s smartest AIs. Considering that you’re graded on a percentage scale just like a school exam, you now get to learn that you get the equivalent of a “D” for your wardrobe choice. We wonder how many people will frantically change clothes trying to get an “A” or even a “B” only to find out that — like most of us — our wardrobes are pretty monotonous, and there isn’t really a huge difference from one outfit to the next. The best you can hope for then is a 50/50 split, or the computer equivalent of “meh”.

Judgmental Humans

If being judged by a machine doesn’t make you feel bad enough about yourself, don’t worry: “fashion specialists” are there to make sure the machines judgement of how well you dress yourself is confirmed by a human. Which human? Tim Gunn? No, probably just a millennial working in Amazon’s Mechanical Turk system. If you’re past the age of 40, you can rest assured that somewhere, someone in their 20s are telling you what you should or should not be wearing. You may as well start shopping at Forever 21 now, to increase your chances of getting high scores on how you dress yourself.
While we are huge Amazon fans, we’re going to have to pass on the Amazon Echo Look, and advise our community of DIFMB users to do the same. Our approach to finding clothes that fit is completely non-judgmental, so we can’t recommend a technology whose entire premise is based on judging how you look.
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