Amazon is reportedly working on a wearable, which will most probably be a set of smart glasses powered by Alexa, according to the Financial Times. Amazon has reportedly hired several members of the Google Glass team. In 2014, the company also hired Babak Parviz, the founder of Google Glass. Thus, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Amazon is working on smart glasses.
Alexa-powered smart glasses different from Google Glass
Amazon’s Alexa-powered smart glasses will reportedly be built on bone-conduction technology, meaning that users would not need earphones or speakers to operate Alexa. Bone conduction technology is a type of audio system that transmits vibrations through the bones of the inner ears straight to the cochlea. From there, it is sent to the auditory nerve and the brain.
If Amazon really is working on Alexa-powered smart glasses, it must not forget to learn from the failures of Google Glass. Amazon’s smart glasses may not be equipped with a camera, and neither will it come with a heads-up display, as Google Glass did. Amazon might be looking to cut down on frills to offer longer battery life in its smart glasses.
At the time Google came up with its smart glasses, it was an exciting technology, but there were hardly any takers. The main reason behind the failure of the glasses was people’s reluctance in wearing the device if they did not need corrective glasses. Even those who need to wear corrective glasses often opt for more sophisticated contact lenses for the simple reason that they do not want to put something on their face, notes VentureBeat.
Reportedly, the online retailer plans to reveal its Alexa-powered smart glasses during a product launch event alongside a home security camera which will integrate with the Echo Show video screen. Various other reports have also pointed at the release of a new version of the Fire TV, Amazon’s streaming media set-top box, with an Echo-style speaker system built-in.
Expanding Alexa’s reach
Amazon might be developing smart glasses simply because it needs to provide more relevance to its voice assistant Alexa. Unlike Google and Apple, which have their own smartphones to deploy the voice assistant on, Amazon is dependent on third-party devices. Further, it is much easier to ask for an assistant’s help from a smartphone than by activating it on a speaker at home, notes TechCrunch.
Amazon Echo has achieved quite a reputation in the United States, garnering a 76% share of the smart speaker market in the country, according to the research firm CIRP. Rival Google Home is in second place, but with a comparably small 24% market share, notes The Guardian.
According to CIRP co-founder Mike Levin, “Owners listen to music most on both Echo and Home, at least once a day or more often. They also use them frequently for information, like asking about the weather or sports scores, as well as setting timers and alarms.”
Meanwhile, to enable Alexa to gain more ground, Amazon has also introduced the voice assistant in its new tablet. The new Fire HD 10 tablet was released this week and packs up to 64 GB of storage and a processor that runs 30% faster than the one in the previous model.