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Amazon Echo Loop (amazon.com)
87 points by ssully 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 86 comments



Is this an early April Fool's joke? The video showing people interacting with the ring does not remotely look appealing or cool. I'm surprised this went through all the way to actual production.


Is this an early April Fool's joke?

It's yet another SV bubble "innovation" that's only useful on the west coast.

It's not going to work in half the world for half of the year. Winter. Pockets. Gloves.

See also: Apple EarPods, with the cords that get brittle in cold weather and become useless tangles that fly up in your face.

See also: Every iPhone I've ever owned which has gone into emergency thermal shutdown just because I dared to use it in Arizona or Nevada.


I've lived in places that were cold for a decent period each year and I wasn't wearing gloves all the time. Even 2-3% of my time would be a stretch.

Even in cold countries we spend ~90% of our time inside and much of the ~10% outside in decent weather. The average American spends 7% of their day outside with some obvious outliers push that upwards. The world average is 87% inside. [1]

Plenty of products are only used a few times a day. I don't think the downtime spent walking around outside shopping or commuting is the killer.

The question is are there enough of those uses to justify wearing it all the time. Not if it works in 100% of situations.

1. https://www.creditdonkey.com/time-spent-outdoors-statistics....


Why build any electronic device that cannot withstand scorching temperatures, extreme cold, function in the deep ocean? There is clearly no market unless it does those things. /s


50 million people live on the West Coast...

That's more than 2/3 the population of France, 3/5 the population of Germany, and 1/6 the population of the US.

Apple earbuds may not work great around the world but it's decent product for those 50 million people, and based on social media appears to work well for other people in similarly temperate climates, like southern Europe, Australia, etc.


I feel like perhaps using the most popular personal device ever as an example of a "bubble innovation" does not make your point.



I would honestly probably use this if it were something like a tiny, unobtrusive, nearly-flat adhesive which I could stick to my hand or arm. Tie it in with some subtle bone-conduction headphones and I'd probably use it while outdoors. For example, it'd be awesome if it could do, say, or play certain things based on a sequence of taps which I can configure, like with Alexa Routines; saying "Alexa, resume podcast" out loud in public is a no-go. Make it thought-controlled and I'd use it without a doubt.

I suspect this is just a kludgy initial version of some future thing that could eventually become really popular.


Heh, I didn't notice the video until you mentioned it. Every interaction looks like the person is holding an invisible smart phone.


Yeah, it didn't respond to the first guy's question correctly and then assumed the woman meant dollars, when she did not specify.


> The video showing people interacting with the ring does not remotely look appealing or cool.

Why does it have to look cool? I want an assistant/gadget whatever that goes out of the way and that I don't have to think about. Ideally it would be invisible, weightless and require no maintenance or charging.


I've been watching all of today's Echo announcement threads wondering the same thing. If any of these products -- with /maybe/ the exception of the earbuds -- were posted on April Fools, we'd have chuckled and moved on without a thought.


This takes "talk to the hand" to a whole new level.


Seeing the earbuds, eyeglasses and now this, this was exactly my thought! Jeff Bezos must be trolling us.


Precursor to the Amazon C0ckRing.


I am amazed that this got green lighted.

you know - who is out there saying - what i am missing in my life is a really ugly ring, that i have to charge daily.


"Day 1 Editions are designed to bring you our most innovative ideas faster. By choosing to participate, you’ll have the opportunity to contribute feedback that informs future product ideas and development."

So compared to for example Apple, they are taking a different approach with this product.


> So compared to for example Apple

Or even Google... like with their Google Glasses.

This is actually a pretty clever way to get early feedback on new ideas.

And the people who say "you have to pay for this stuff". Um yeah, that is the point. If nobody buys it.... maybe that is a clue there is no market for the idea (at least at that price point).

Neat! Too bad the discussion is about this particular device and not the actual program itself...


Sounds like they're making people pay to be beta testers.


> Sounds like they're making people pay to be beta testers.

Kind of the point. If people aren't willing to part with their hard earned dollars for the device, maybe it won't be a market success and they should stop investing in it?


That's only a clever strategy if it's a landing page for a product that doesn't exist from a 1-person company that hasn't incorporated yet. /s


I hate when Jeff's goons show up outside my door at 3am telling me to put on the ring or else

No one is being made to do anything.


No one is being made to do anything, but if you want to be a beta tester, you have to actually buy the thing. They aren't giving it away for you to test with. And you have to be invited, apparently.


So the point is that if you want this product, you need to pay for it? Now I know how Bezos made his $100B.


Wasn't there a movie about that? With trolls or hobbits or something?


No one's making anyone do anything. I love the opportunity to try possibly new technology. The rest of the conservative world can just wait.


I am amazed that this got green lighted.

It's what happens when a company has so much money it can make things without doing any actual market research.

"More dollars than sense" is the appropriate expression.


This product is part of Amazon's "Day One" program, which is largely stuff that they're throwing against the (shopping) wall to see if it sticks. It's like the Alexa Microwave...a shitty microwave that was intended as a reference design that became the best-selling microwave on Amazon.

Amazon is testing the waters for Alexa-integrated wearables. Not just earbuds, which are a saturated market, but other wearables like rings and frames.

If it does, the potential upside is huge--they could create an entire new market, like they did with the original Echo and Kindle. If not, it's a rounding error in an immaterial account on the financials.


I think it's more that Amazon has so much money that their version of market research looks much different than what you typically think of as market research.

Producing a new device, throwing it up on their website to sell, and seeing how well it does is Amazon's version of market research. It's "move fast and break things" brought into the hardware space. They actually even say as much in their description of the "Day 1 Editions" program, of which the Echo Loop is part of.


Expect they're not breaking anything at all.


The "move fast and break things" motto doesn't mean actually "breaking" things. It means not being afraid of mistakes, because things that are "broken" or "wrong" can be fixed down the line.

In this case, Amazon is exhibiting not being afraid of releasing a possibly unsuccessful product, because they know they can iterate on it (or pivot, or exit entirely) later on.


Remember the failed phone? Half of these new echo devices likely will suffer the same fate. I can’t imagine wanting to speak to my hand or my glasses in public... looking completely insane while doing it.


No need to green-light spaghetti—there's always plenty of room on the wall.


You stick it on a little nub. Basically as easy as taking it off, assuming you sleep in the same place every night.


It is clear to me that Amazon has doubled down on the only foothold they have, after missing mobile.

I think that Voice Assistants will always be a feature, though, and not a product. And as a feature, first-party ones will always have an inherent advantage.

Especially with this event, it seems that Amazon is going with a feature and trying to back into products, which to me seems like the opposite way to approach a market.


Amazon is under the (mistaken?) assumption that the Echo was popular for any reason besides the fact that it makes playing music super easy.


While I had one, I mostly used it for: 1) playing music that can be named in English (because fuck other languages, right?), 2) setting timers, 3) checking the time.

I find voice assistants to be of very limited use to me. Generally, I prefer typing, because it's just faster. When I find myself needing a voice assistant, it's because I'm: 1) not near enough a keyboard, and/or 2) using my hands for something else, namely cooking or driving. Back when I had Echo Dot, it wasn't really useful for cooking, other than setting timers. And, of course, I couldn't take it with me in my car. I don't know if they made it more useful in the last couple of years.

I think voice assistants could be extremely useful, but they're being hampered by their creators' ambition. Every single voice assistant I've seen is trying too hard to be "everything you'll ever need", so it could dominate the market.

I had hopes for Mycroft II, because it promised to be an open source solution on par with other voice assistants. It turned to be a typical Kickstarter horror story: overpromised and not yet delivered.


I've owned Echo for 4 years (switched to google home now), and used it to play music only once. It's purely assistant to me.


You are in the minority. Most of the queries by far are for music use case.


Do you have a source for that claim? Because I also rather rarely play music through mine. Most people I know who have one use it mainly for smart home control.


Yeah, I would love to have some data on that too. We have a few HomePods around the house, and even though that is more of a music player than a smart speaker, we use the voice assistant for everything BUT music.

Music is usually controlled with our phones or computers, casted to the HomePods.


For some additional anecdotal data points:

- I use mine exclusively for music.

- My mom uses hers for a mix of home automation and music, but seems to be heavier toward the latter. Sometimes she'll play Jeopardy with it.

- My grandparents use theirs exclusively for home automation.


These days mine is just a hands free kitchen timer. I don't use it for anything else.



Anecdote, but: we use our echo all over our house for doing things like setting alarms, and checking the time.


So... it's a clock. Except one that you have to talk to, instead of just looking at it.

I have a mantle clock for that. Every 30 minutes a gentle chime drifts through the house, keeping everyone on time. No charging. No shouting. No telemetry. No privacy invasion involved.

Best $7 I've spent in a long time.


I have one of the Google Home devices in every room in the house. The speakers for the bathroom/bedroom and the video screens for the living room and kitchen. It's amazing. I can tell it to play music synchronized across the house, I have photos of fun stuff scrolling in my living spaces, and I ask it for calendar, transit, and weather advice daily.

Plus, it's so far superior to a clock in that I can get in bed and say "Set alarm for 6.30" or "Wake me up in 9 hours" or whatever I want and I can snooze it from bed or stop the alarm without needing to find a button.


More case of Voice Assistants are a front-end to services and Amazon sells services, so saturation of that market works best for them. So with mobiles, why not sell services for all those ecosystems and with that target more people across all flavours of mobiles.

Win the interface (Voice Assistant) battle and your have a massive advantage in the services that will just work compared to services that take some hacking about. Want to play Amazon music upon alexa - done, want to play Google Play Music using Alexa - let me write some code, setup a service.....effort. Most users want simple, easy, just works and if they can win that battle, then that is a far bigger market than mobiles. Bit like - why focus on selling a form of car when we can sell fuel to all the cars and they want to win that market.

Maybe the whole Voice Assistant market may go like the whole VHS/Betamax market did, cheap, works and may be better offerings but market saturations wins in the end.


Alexa is closer to an OS/Shell than a gadget. It's an app store, set of human interface apis and a voice command line to interface with it.


Amazon is in constant development of secret projects to throw at the wall and see what sticks. Having worked on their hardware teams they’re constantly reverse engineering products and engineering new potential items that seem kinda out there or anticipating filling a market need that doesn’t yet exist. Swing enough times you’ll get some hits.


My main thing with this is it kind of works well for digital minimalism - no need for notifications or tracking of my body but get the benefit of adding to-dos or looking up quick things without looking at a screen.

I hate smart watches cause I wear a normal watch, you know, something i never have to charge and is always on, amazing concept and I don't want to constantly be pulling out my phone, I prefer to keep it in a bag. This kind of gets that middle ground of answering quick one off questions (which I use my Google Home for now, but not out and about) as well as add to-dos and other things. Connecting this with Ifttt can probably do other cool stuff to.

Though, this is not a mass market need, it just happens to fill my specific need.


The linked video is priceless. One of the first examples is a guy asking the ring-Alexa "What's on my grocery list?" to which ring-Alexa replies idiotically, "You have five items on your grocery list." This is almost Google Glass levels of tastelessness and bad design. Did none of Amazon's product managers see someone talking into their cupped palm, pausing, and then moving their hand to the side of their face and think, "this looks stupid and weird"? Yikes.


Oh damn! They should have made it in the shape of tiny angels and demons micro drones which hover over your shoulder. You ask a question and you get an assortment of positive and negative responses from them as they flutter and follow you around your shoulders.


I guess all the down-voters never watched a Looney Tunes cartoon. Sad.


I don't know how to feel about this. On one side are the privacy implications.

On the other hand, 16 year old me would have loved this. This is the pervasive computing of sci-fi made real. All information is just a tap away. Control lights or run a compute job using a custom Alexa Skill.


Sci-fi also showed us the risks of such things, if not implemented properly. STtNG had several episodes where the U.S.S. Enterprise was commandeered via voice hacks.


What are the implications that differ from already having Alexa running on your smartphone in your pocket, which the ring requires?


What is the advantage of this over a smart watch?


I would sooner wear a ring than watch. Anecdotally, I have plenty of friends who agree with me

(Granted I wouldn't wear this for privacy reasons, but I really dislike wearing watches)


The Echo Loop might be a dud or it might be a winner we don't expect but I am glad they are trying it. We have no idea what form factor of wearable will end up winning and being in the set of things people use and like.

Good for Amazon for trying something new and having the resources to experiment with a new form factor. I have no idea of a ring with a voice interface will stand the test of time but I would like to know if it has any merit.


Currently I use a ring that allows me to pay like a credit card: I love it (I live by the beach so I prefer not to have a wallet with me).

Being able to query google from a ring is attractive to me.

I am surprised by the fact the speaker is in the ring, but it means you can potentially receive “private” information from the ring without other hearing.

I imagine people whispering to their rings in the bus. I think the hand motion you have to do from speaking to listening might make you look like a fool (google glass)


Hey, which product are you using? I googled and the McLear came up top. Do you like it? The contactless payment thing sounds fucking amazing.


That looks pretty cool. I have not joined the contactless payment game yet, but I'd consider wearing this.

Too bad it looks to be UK only.


I can see the appeal of everything else Amazon announced (even the glasses, which have value in that they're basically headphones you don't have to take off when having a conversation). But cannot figure out the target market of this. I'm even someone who is interested in the idea of a smart ring, but the feature it needs is sleep tracking (since I haven't ever been able to sleep with a watch or band).


Sleep tracking is the only thing I can think of that would be usefull.


I could see some use in fitness tracking when playing a sport where you'd be asked to take off a watch (pickup basketball, for example). But that's why I think there could be a market for it - its value prop is simply that it's both extremely low profile and connected. The Oura ring is simply too expensive for me, but I think I'd pay $130 for a wearable sleep tracker that integrates with Apple Health that provided me high quality data about my sleep quality.


I give credit for an interesting product idea, but requiring a nearby cellphone makes it much less compelling than an Apple Watch with a data plan. Something like Amazon’s ring but with its own cell data plan and a lot of work put into voice only UIs might be a great product. Still, for now, a watch that can be a replacement for carrying a phone hits the sweet spot for me.


trying not to imagine what'll happen if the battery starts swelling


Only one question - Why?


Oh FFS this is ridiculous. If Amazon can build it into a ring, they can install it subdermally and power it with the Krebs cycle. We're all just aching for a way to have a more intimate, always-on relationship with Amazon. Amazon what are you waiting for???

</sarcasm>


This feels like one of those bad Kickstarter projects that get made fun of on YouTube.


The only things I ask Alexa to do are

- Turn on/off the lights

- What time is it?

- What's the weather (today, this week)?

Literally that's all I've done since the thing came out. I find other interaction patterns to be inferior to just waiting to use by phone.

I hate using Alexa as a speaker since my Sonos system is far better than even the top tier Alexa hardware, and I want to use non-Amazon music services anyway. Alexa really wants to play music though as it frequently misunderstands me and tries its best to get me to like it. I wish I could disable music outright, but the product people at Amazon will never allow it.

Alexa is such a toy. It'll never be much else despite Amazon trying their damnedest. It gets things wrong frequently and isn't really life changing. They missed the smartphone boat and this will be their second fiddle.


this takes “talk to the hand” to a whole new level. i pray this madness stops


I do wonder what else does it pick up. This seems to be a voice version of facebook scanning faces of all random people on pictures taken in public and posted to facebook.


That...could be quite handy for the elderly. Spend some time as a caregiver and you see that a lot of these oddball form factors are quite handy for some folks.


I'm usually enthusiastic about Echo products but today's announcements should have included Henry Winkler, a motorcycle and a shark tank.


I was in a group of ~a dozen people recently and somehow it came up that over half of our wedding bands were from Amazon.


I actually like this a lot tbh. I only wish it looked better but worth a try.

Been looking to try some new IoT stuff.


A curved LiPo battery being shipped in a real device! cool! This has been a long time coming


It's basically what the Apple Watch already does.


This is one of the saddest things I have ever seen.


maybe work on making the Alexa phone app more user friendly instead...


One ring to bring them all…


Java Ring 2.0


I'll pass for now, but keep me in the loop.


One ring to rule them all?

All that is missing is an Amazon Echo Loop Nose Edition. Bear with me...

It's mounted right above your mouth, so you never have to raise your hand to your face - pfft, how exhausting right? You tap it with your tongue to activate (if you're flexible enough). And, it just vibrates, making your nose itch, when you have a notification.

To charge it, along with your ring, eyeglasses, ear pods, watch, phone, laptop, and smart socks, you will need another usb port. But luckily, you can charge this one in your sleep. Just mount the magnetic charger right to your face. So convenient! Battery lasts all day! (6 hours)




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