It is adding weight, complexity, and limiting choice to your eye-wear while effectively doing a similar thing to half a dozen wireless earbuds already on the market. It isn't really comparable to Google Glass, because Google Glass used projection onto the glasses themselves (creating a unique value).
Plus Amazon are trying to integrate with the US's predominant eye wear monopoly (via insurance/out-of-network frames) instead of just bypassing it and producing the lenses themselves. So you're paying $179.99 for empty frames and then untold amounts for the actual lenses, and trying to ingrate with an insurance system that's designed to benefit only Luxottica (via their stranglehold of both insurance companies AND lens producers).
Too bad their support couldn't explain why they were hassling me for a document they didn't need (except for in a legal sense).
Zenni also requires an up to date prescription.
No they don't. You just have to enter the numbers.
If I have to insert earbuds to talk to Alexa, then I could just bring up my entire phone.
> an insurance system that's designed to benefit only Luxottica (via their stranglehold of both insurance companies AND lens producers).
How is this a thing? Couldn't a startup come in and trounce them by offering $10 frames and lenses? The optics aren't that complicated, and frames are... plastic?
Eyeglasses are an interesting example of a market failure - customers have been paying 10x the actual price for an important item, for 20+ years, and the market hasn't fixed it.
In Beijing I used to just head down to Panjiayuan Zhaojia Glasses City and get pairs for ~15 bucks. Rest your head on a machine that reads your prescription, pick out frames, bargain, 30 minutes later you have your glasses.
In the US glasses are medicalized, which hides the reality that glasses are really cheap and simple to make; for people without money this causes real harm.
And then to deal with the sheer operations (talking like ten thousand plus frames per day).
They had a deal at that time too - $99 for exam and one frame/lens set, done in a couple hours.
They're fine - have worn every day for 3 years. No 'insurance' to worry about.
However, it's not for everyone. For one, it's out of network for insurance providers, so you have to deal with paperwork yourself and the deductible is high. Also since they are online only, you have to adjust it yourself, which isn't always easy. And being online only means you can't try it on beforehand.
Unfortunately, nobody wants to change this because insurers love charging premium rates for low risk recurring costs, providers love obscuring their prices, and consumers have come to demand their insurance covers “the basics”.
I actually got a pair of prescription tinted (as in sunglass tint) aviator high-index frames w/ lenses for about $110.
There was a site, myopticalshop.com that could do high-index rimless for $150, I haven’t checked in awhile, though.
So, the rimless frames are $50 and 1.74 index lenses are an additional $129.
You can get polarized glasses from Amazon for $20.
Zenni gets you in the door with a low base price then slams you with the add ons.
If you have a reasonable Rx, Zinni are likely using finished lenses. Polarized have to been surfaced in the lab.
Ultimately even with insurance it is often cheaper to go outside of Luxottica's network, but many people don't even check and just assume that because they have reduced cost "insurance" that it will be cheaper to stay within Luxottica's spiderweb.
The way you solve this is to split up Luxottica via strong competition controls. Have one retail giant and one eye insurance company, not one monolith doing both.
Luxottica owns EyeMed, which isn't VSP.
Luxottica just purchased Essilor -- so, now, one company handles the insurance, frames, and lenses...turning it into a bigger monster.
This also already exists with companies like zenni optical.
No mention that Luxottica merged with Essilor a year or two back. Essilor are mainly lenses, but also have a range of premium and designer frame brands they bought. EssilorLuxottica has a huge portion of the resulting market. No idea if it gets near or past 80% now, but they're a $50bn company.
This seems like smartnes.
Pretty much every employer vision plan I've had for the last 20 years has given its employees $150 credit toward frames. So now employees can opt for paying $29.99 out-of-pocket for Echo frames, instead of $150+ out-of-pocket for frames, since any frames worth putting on your face cost $300+.
The last time I got new glasses (a few months ago), the cheapest pair of frames in the shop was $450.
Frames and lenses are always covered with separate co-pays/co-insurance at every employer I've ever had.
There are online retailers with cheap, but also decent frames, for much less than what you are quoting.
It may be the case that you are much pickier than I am, or that the frames in the same price range don't fit you properly. But I have a feeling that you can get much better deals if you shop around. 450 for the cheapest frame is insane. I'll be re-evaluating the 'vision plan' I got in the open enrollment period, because the value proposition is not clear – they haven't even covered the costs at this lower price point.
People need to avoid Luxottica's retailers. That price is absurd. The insurance isn't saving you a dime, the amount you're paying after insurance "savings" is likely higher than you would pay outright elsewhere.
In other countries that I've lived (where you pay cash, no insurance) frames top out at $150~ equivalent (for branded/designer) and start under $30.
Yes, their ultra cheap frames aren't as nice as the $180 but $30 after insurance ones, but now I have a pair of glasses with different characteristics in the car, in my home, in my office, and in my gym locker. Previously I would use basically one pair to multitask it all because of the price.
I'm reaching this conclusion too.
I have a difficult prescription and my eyes are very important to me. I can't trust them to discounters.
I don't know where you got this odd idea about lens quality but it isn't factually supported. You can buy thinner and thicker lenses for additional cost, but both will be as accurate as the prescription is.
The lenses that you get from a discounter will match your prescription, but expensive shops can have differentiating features.
People who've only gotten cheap glasses/lenses don't even know how important it is. I get my frames from DITA (www.dita.com) and they've lasted me 5+ years, never bend, warp, etc. Lenses get replaced every 2 years.
In practice different materials of the same index can have significantly different abberation. When I very recently got work-optimized glasses from a local optician, I could sit down and compare the materials they could get. One of the 1.60 index materials (Hoya, I think) was as good as thicker lenses while another (Essilor?) would have given me noticeable fringing on a monitor.
Now try to get a place like Zenni to so much as tell you what they're selling.
The general trend is that higher-index materials tend to have lower Abbe numbers, but there are exceptions. Polycarbonate is a cheap and popular mid-index material that's widely recommended on the basis of its mechanical strength. Its index of refraction is 1.59 and its Abbe number is 30, but there are numerous materials with a similar index of refraction around 1.6 and substantially better Abbe numbers of 41-42, or materials with a significantly higher index of refraction (1.67) and Abbe numbers that are slightly better than polycarbonate.
Zenni and EyeBuyDirect don't want to promote awareness of chromatic abberation, but they do make it easy to know whether you're ordering polycarbonate, and they both have 1/6/1.61 index materials with better Abbe numbers than polycarbonate. Zenni uses one of the Mitsui MR materials for their 1.6 lenses.
Yes, for 2-3% of customers or something that may be relevant (strong enough prescriptions at the tail of the distribution or using glass).
Most of the glasses I get from Zenni cost about $30.
This lets you use Alexa without taking your phone out or wearing ear buds. If I liked Alexa and wore glasses, I could see myself being into this product. Even if I didn’t wear glasses, being a hardcore Alexa fan user might justify wearing “fake” glasses just for the convenience.
On Amazon’s end, it’s a smart move. If this product sticks in any way at all, they’ll have a platform to iterate on in the upcoming years - such as making more premium versions with cameras/display/AR/etc. Because this is such a basic product, it will likely not face the same kind of backlash as Google Glass did, and lets Amazon usher the age of face wearables in a much smoother way than Google’s attempt.
So again, I hate voice assistants with a passion and have no interest in this product, but I think this is a very clever product move from Amazon.
Whether you like it or not you will be in their product if people are walking around in public or at work while wearing these. Isn't the future great?
"Amazon open-ear technology directs sound to your ears, letting you discreetly access Alexa. With your ears uncovered, you’ll be able to hear without blocking out the world around you."
wow, I just had to laugh at this marketing-speak... "designed to keep you in the moment with even more distractions"
Now they have to try and make some money from all this investment because nobody is replacing their echo every year. They've basically become a parody of themselves trying to dig themselves out of an 'AI' platform that never materialized into much more than hands free timer and audio player.
Their way to turn a profit is to shove it into every consumer device they can before consumers realize they don't need 15 different devices to turn on the lights.
I find it very hard to believe Amazon ever planned to make money on the hardware. Alexa is a convenient user interface for subscriptions to Amazon services (Music, Shopping, Fresh, etc). Putting the tech in to more things is an attempt to remove any barrier to buying other stuff from Amazon.
> And with no camera or display, you stay in the moment.
Snow Crash - like 1984 - was a warning, not a manual for building the future.
> Echo Frames are designed to protect your privacy.
That page is careful to always say "protect your privacy". The privacy of everyone else in range of the microphone apparently isn't even worth mentioning. That responsibility is implicitly (and silently) pushed onto the user.
...As it should be? I don't want my technology to make privacy choices for me. I'm not putting down hundreds of dollars to have some algorithm baby me into complacency.
The possibility of being recorded in public has been obvious since the introduction of the microphone, and essentially expected in the smartphone age. What difference does it make if that microphone is on my glasses rather than in my pocket or on my wrist?
The golden rule applies: Don't talk about things you want to hide in public. I'm not saying "you have nothing to worry about if you have nothing to hide" - I'm saying "if you have something to hide why would you announce it out loud amongst strangers?" That's just bad opsec and, yeah, it's on you to police what information you release when you're surrounded by people who listen. Smart devices or not, that's a basic responsibility anyone owes to themselves and the people they're talking about.
What a racket
edit: Okay, I just saw that they have Echo Buds too. So I guess this is only for people who already wear glasses, or prefer them for some reason.
"A single charge delivers a day of intermittent usage at 60% volume. Intermittent usage includes 40 Alexa interactions, 45 minutes of music, podcast or other audio playback, 20 minutes of phone calls, and 90 incoming notifications over a 14-hour period. Alternatively, a fully charged battery will last up to 3 hours of continuous audio playback at 60% volume. Actual battery life will vary depending on device settings, features utilized, environment and other factors. Fully charges in about 75 minutes."
That said, I was quite surprised at how good the sound was. I think the big problem is that the style options are quite limited. I really think there should be a partnership between Bose and Oakley... the later known for occasionally chunky styling and also modularity.
Personally, I'm happy wearing an Apple Watch, overlooking the fact that Siri needs a lot of work.
That's what bothers me so much about all these gadgets and apps. They don't even offer anything revolutionary. Just a handful of gimmicks and evolutionary improvements to things you could already do.
Yet people are happy giving up their privacy for it.
It's not that hard to add tasks to your to-do list manually. Or to switch on your table lamp by hand.
I really wish Google Glass had been a success.
I'm still not sure how useful the frames will be, but I can see a few uses for them, especially on my daily commute.
I wish that instead of being financed by surveillance, you could buy an alexa/google assistant/siri subscription.
But statistically speaking, an average person is smarter than half the people around them. An especially smart person is smarter than even more than that.
I'm by no means cruel to people I find unintelligent, but I that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to be tired of them, or that I have to do a little song and dance about how great they are just because I haven't done a thorough investigation into their mind yet.
This is assuming you believe that a global ordering of intelligence is possible. Personally, I disagree with this belief since there are many different dimensions of intelligence. (It also assumes whatever global measure of intelligence is used is normally distributed, but that's a separate consideration.)
I wasn't suggesting you were cruel, although I think it's unfortunate to applying the terms "gormless" or "slack-jawed" to a person one has never met.
You're trying to high-road this shit. You think you're smart, and I think you are too. We both could probably "guess" intelligence with reasonable accuracy based off looks alone. And even if not, it's a fact that even complete morons have access to high tech. For sure we've both seen them before.
It seems like maybe you're trying to avoid a slippery slope or something, but I think you're slipping the other direction. It's a razor-blade mountain pass, on one hand idiots deserve to be happy, but on the other they probably shouldn't be empowered.
Technology is power, and I'm tired of watching morons poke away at it, applying their force to the world, and ultimately slowing everything down because they push backwards.
I feel smart glasses will be bigger then Apple Watch/smart watches and almost as big as smart phones. Most people wear eye or sunglasses already.
Go try a pair on ..why wouldn't you wear these glasses vs. just regular seeing or sunglasses?
Here's a few opinions on my experience:
- The glasses look bulky but don't feel it
- The sound system is pretty decent, I can listen to music and take phone calls and the audio will be crystal clear
- I don't like the fact that if I raise the volume everyone can hear what I am listening to, this is particularly bad for phone calls but even when listening to Google Assistant giving me the weather forecast rundown can become a problem for others around (not me obviously - but people who think I just have really loud invisible headphones in my ears)
- Battery life can be better, it's not terrible but it's still a bluetooth device that needs to be in touch with your phone to work so it's not too bad ultimately! Depends how much music you will listen to..
- Lack of camera sucks hard: I could think of 200 use-cases for having a camera, instead I have to raise my phone and use Google magic glass to scan QR codes or to translate text. Shame :(
- Did I mention they just look bulky?
Overall they're nice and rather useful in some very specific situations, I love biking with them (they're protecting my eyes from UV properly according to Bose) and I love going for walks around the park wearing them - but only when I am alone and not too many people around so I don't look like I've got bees in my ears. Yes the buzzing can be annoying for people who walk beside you. (Or maybe that's a good thing, if you don't wanna hear your friend complain about how the price of their favorite beer went up another half a dollar here in Austin. /sarcasm)
It's unethical (and in many cases illegal) to record and analyze other people's conversations without consent. The intended usage is to only record your own speech but it inevitably leads to compromising others as well.
If I had control over the recordings, I could use it for "good" (useful to me) causes. But I can't make any guarantees as to what other people will do with conversations recorded in public.
1984-esque start-up idea: pay people pennies to forward your company the recordings of their surroundings. Make profiles and sell "anonimized" datasets of the interactions.
Devices such as these and "smart speakers" are sold at a loss because their lifetime value to the vendor is in gathering and analyzing data. They are attacked more emphatically than smart phones by privacy enthusiasts because they are so grossly unbalanced when comparing end-user value versus their cynical treatment of users' data interests. A smart phone can have its "smart agent" features disabled and remain a highly valuable device to its user. But if you take away the smart agent feature from these more recent "smart" devices and you're left with an inert brick.
The only company I'd even think about maybe-sorta-kinda trusting with this kind of device would be Apple, and that's only because they've put a clear priority on making more and more stuff happen on-device and on not selling info on what happens off-device.
Speech as a means of controlling a device also seems down right stupid. Personally I don't see it being superior to a keyboard in any form. Certainly there are scenarios where voice commands are the better/safer choice, but again, those cases are extremely few and not something I encounter.
Honestly what's use case for Echo Frame, who seriously needs this?
While I might be willing to try working on support for a new device provided its interfaces are documented, I have little desire to buy an expensive new device knowing I'd have to reverse-engineer the thing before being able to even use it.
Now, if I could just have a smartphone that wasn't a tracking device. That used a LEO network that couldn't geolocate phones accurately. And anonymous accounts, payable with untraceable digital cash.
But maybe I'd settle for a device that only connected via open WiFi, and routed traffic through VPNs and Tor.
I’m mildly skeptical of the ring controller and I have had a couple of them break on me. However, their customer support has been great and they replaced them immediately with no problems whatsoever. Overall though it’s pretty solid and I sometimes catch myself missing the ring if I’m not wearing it, but that might just be my fidgeting habit.
North definitely sold me on the concept and I’m looking forward to more advanced implementations of the technology going forward. I’m not completely sure if I would recommend any of these glasses products coming out (like from Amazon or North or Facebook) to my friends at this time, but if you’re curious about them or if you like having the cutting edge, then they’re absolutely worth a look at least. If anything, the display will be a cool thing to experience if you haven’t seen it before.
Can I just have a display? Pretty please? Doesn't have to be high resolution, it doesn't have to have much intelligence other than connecting to my phone.
We just need magic-mirror-like glasses that don't look like you have been captured by a Borg cube.
at least with a display you can have a conversation with someone while you glance at it but having to listen to 2 things at the same time isn't something most people can do
intel's glasses seemed like the best compromise but it's been years since they announced them so I'm guessing it was only some sort of concept
It was glib, but still- much of the utility is gone, leaving more or less just a monitoring device.
The problem with Google glass was just the camera! We can do it better!
A set of Apple's AirPods do everything this can do, far less obtrusively, and cheaper even.
2) Amazon also released earbuds.
The only voice recognition I am comfortable with would run on open source software on hardware I owned and physically possessed. I have looked and this doesn’t seem to really exist.
The Frames are absolutely the best I have ever seen in my life. They can get expensive but absolutely worth it. Got a pair of these that are made of titanium. They are so light you forget you even have glasses on.
They may have a shop in California.
Unfortunately the source code disappeared from thingiverse...
In other words, no one will ban you from their bar like they did when you wore your Google Glass.
>Amazon open-ear technology directs sound to your ears and minimizes what others can hear.
That just sounds like bullshit-speak for "earbuds hanging outside of your ears".
I suspect the draw here is intended to be for people who already wear glasses all the time, but I personally would trust Amazon exactly not at all with that kind of omnipresence.
Luxottica, while a profiteering monopoly, at least has a zillion different styles. And would you spoil the look of your $500 glasses with some clip on doodad?
Bad: E. Choli, Echocentric, Echoterrorist, Echromancer, Echoroomer, Echommercial, Echo-kroach, Echonvict
By the way, is there a gender-neutral third-person pronoun besides the singular "they"? It can get confusing to some people. "It" can probably get confusing too, and I think it is also considered rude to refer to people by "it". I have never used "it" to refer to people. Many languages have gender-neutral third-person personal pronouns. I wish English had something that is less ambiguous than "they" or "their" (I know, context!). Maybe I should just start using "s/he".
People have proposed [a bunch of gender-neutral pronouns](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-person_pronoun#Alternati...) (scroll down a bit and you'll find a chart) but none of them have achieved sufficient usage to stop sounding kind of weird and funny to most English-speaking ears.
s/he will probably work for written text... until you end up in circles with enough people who prefer "they" for it to start being a problem. Maybe you never will, I dunno. If you're in a large software company on the West Coast you probably will.
Whenever AirPods come up in discussion, there are plenty of people on HN who say they don't fit right, or are worried they'll fall out while exercising. Maybe that's the audience?
Or maybe people who can't wear buds at work?
Yeah, I'm not really sure what huge market there is for this product.
Promoting certain activities steals time and space away from other more appropriate activities.
Not one developed by Amazon. It's not fair at all to say a microphone in an iPhone is equivalent to a microphone in an Amazon device.
The difference is I trust Apple enough to turn off Siri on my phone and feel safe nothing is being broadcast online or stored locally for another app to access.
Is this guaranteed? Hell no. I also don't read the source code of every open source program I use (and even if I do I'm aware people exist much smarter than me who can obfuscate their malicious code).
Apple's business strategy, their history of actions, and their security system make me feel confident enough in _assuming_ my voice never reaches their servers and cannot be turned in by an app without explicit permissions. That last bit is also important. Like the Android Facebook background audio "bug", even if it is really a bug, to me it's no different.
Lastly even if Amazon were trustworthy about not listening when they say and not accessing voice data they shouldn't, I don't trust the platform very much. Quick idea, can you create a multi-turn alexa skill that after the first turn pretends Alexa is finished but it is actually actively recording and waiting to fake a response to "Alexa! <do other skill>"? Personally I don't know, don't have the source to check, and I wouldn't really believe any amazon engineer coming in here and saying "It's impossible to exploit". (Even if my 5 minute idea is impossible multiply that times thousands of malicious people spending much longer trying to exploit it)
edit: Don't mean to imply an Apple is impossible to hack or exploit. Just that they take a more active stance and have the history to back it up.
the NSA don't need to hack them... they can just ask (they did).
what we need is true e2e encryption ...
Edit: I had a Qualcomm pdQ in 1999. But once I saw how smartphones were being designed as surveillance devices, I refused to play.
Get a FOSS Android phone. I have a OnePlus 7 Pro, previously a Galaxy S5 (the newer Galaxys also work as long as you don't get the US model); it runs LineageOS (stock Android). I chose not to install the Google Play packages. I get apps from F-Droid, which is a repository + package manager that builds and distributes FOSS applications.
It pings time.android.com for NTP, and I think it also uses a Google server to check when you're behind a captive portal WiFi. The default dialer/SMS/Contacts app have some options in the settings that will connect to proprietary APIs; I don't think they talk to Google but if you do then you can replace them with applications from F-Droid. But other than that it's 100% clean.
In the system settings I can completely block applications from using the network. LineageOS also adds Privacy Guard, which lets you deny permissions to applications. I need WhatsApp to communicate with some people, but I have denied it contact permissions so it gets fed an empty address book. I also have it set to require confirmation from me to use the camera or microphone.
I also installed AdAway from F-Droid, which is a DNS-based firewall like Pi-Hole. From F-Droid I also got Firefox with uBlock Origin, K-9 mail client, NewPipe as a YouTube frontent, OsmAnd+ for maps/navigation, DavDroid to sync contacts & calendar with Nextcloud, the Nextcloud Notes app for synced notes, and a OpenVPN client to prevent AT&T from spying on me and injecting tracking identifiers into my internet usage.
The only real threats in the system are the proprietary driver blobs and the risk of Google putting evil code into AOSP instead of limiting it to their proprietary services - but I hope the LineageOS team would be able to catch that.
Like assuming a product has always-on data mining?
" ... now my data can be harvested wherever I go instead of just in the privacy of my own home"
1. How do you know what harvesting takes place?
2. IF it is occurring, how has the status quo changed?
The comment seem to make some strong assumptions about what these glasses are doing, without any substantiation.
I'm basing my assumption on the wealth of information already available about Amazon and Alexa
>2. IF it is occurring, how has the status quo changed?
As I already said, now it can occur in public rather than simply in people's homes, and affect bystanders who have not chosen to utilize alexa devices
using knowledge of fallacy to illustrate the underlying logical error in someones argument is how debate works. you should never actually need to reference a fallacy out loud during debate.
Edit: you've done this so much elsewhere and broken the site guidelines so badly that we've banned your account. Please see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21089074.
"You already have a tracking device that follows you around."
Thats not a change in subject, nor an accusation of guilt. It's not a whataboutism.
You shouting whataboutism, and changing the subject to fallacies is more of a whataboutism.
Thats not what just happened. "You accuser" didnt accuse you of being a privacy violation.
Smart Phone was brought up as an EXAMPLE of having a microphone and camera in your pocket, connected to the internet. It wasnt a change in subject from tracking devices.
>Although you are clearly very confused, because whataboutism is a logical fallacy....
I believe you are the confused one. You changed the subject to a fallacy discussion, by mentioning whataboutism. Its like changing the conversation to fruit by mentioning bananas. Obviously banana is a fruit.
>By carrying a smartphone I'm not allowed to care about my privacy?
to quote you "instead of just in the privacy of my own home." no one said you arent allowed to be concerned about privacy, but thats not what you said. the "hivemind" disagreed with your PREMISE that you arent currently tracked and that this product would suddenly create tracking ability that doesnt already exist. Its the "instead of just in my home" part people are taking issue with, because the "just in my home" reality doesnt exist.
Which literally changes nothing. It's an item on your body with a microphone. So just like your phone, your headphones, etc. It's nothing even particularly new.
Google glass, at least, had a camera that significantly changed the privacy equation. These change nothing.
Citation needed, please. To the best of my knowledge there is no back door for police in ring gear. They can request video from users, but there is no requirement it be given up and the request can be denied.
If you refuse they have a deal with amazon to hand it over to them anyway.
"However, he noted, there is a workaround if a resident happens to reject a police request. If the community member doesn’t want to supply a Ring video that seems vital to a local law enforcement investigation, police can contact Amazon, which will then essentially “subpoena” the video.
“If we ask within 60 days of the recording and as long as it’s been uploaded to the cloud, then Ring can take it out of the cloud and send it to us legally so that we can use it as part of our investigation,” he said."
Amazon can pretty much do whatever they want with your video feed including publish views from your doorstep on social media without your permission: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/daveyalba/amazon-ring-d...
Police have also shown up at people's doors to intimidate them into handing over videos.
"Police have also told CNET in the past that they've shown up at known Ring users' doorsteps to request footage in person if the online requests don't pan out."
This shouldn't surprise you though. Basically any scrap of data you give to companies like apple google and amazon will be sucked up by the government at some level. Just the other day there was an article about how companies are hit with national security letters forbidding them from saying anything about the data collection going on, but we've known since Snowden's leaks that the NSA was collecting data from those companies already.
Just because someone says something doesn't mean it's true:
>"The reports that police can obtain any video from a Ring doorbell within 60 days is false," a spokesperson said. "Ring will not release customer information in response to government demands without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Ring objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course. We are working with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office to ensure this is understood."
>"Police have also told CNET in the past that they've shown up at known Ring users' doorsteps to request footage in person if the online requests don't pan out."
This is shitty but not a back door, and it's also something police do if you have regular camera footage they think will help with an investigation too.
Maybe this was a NSL situation and the cop unintentionally spilled the beans, or maybe it's just weasel words by the amazon PR rep. Technically what they said specifically ("a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us") doesn't necessarily mean anything has to be signed off on by a judge. It just means the police have to make a legal and binding demand which shouldn't be a problem if handing that data over to police whenever they demand it is part of the binding terms of their contract with police.
I'll admit I'm not giving amazon or the police the benefit of the doubt here, but I also have zero reason to.