They don't look dorky.
That was my first impression after seeing pictures of the Amazon Echo Frames eyeglasses, which are available now by special invitation only for $180. The black glasses look like something you could wear at a startup or in a coffee shop and no one would notice. I've already placed my request for a pair.
The idea is that the Alexa bot will work at all times, as long as you are wearing the glasses. They last all day on one charge; if you play music they last about three hours.
I'm surprised Amazon hasn't released a product like this already.
It's a brilliant way to access the Alexa bot if, like me, you already wear glasses. The Echo Frames weight 31 grams or just over one ounce, and they don't provide a display or a camera. It's strictly a way to access Alexa, make calls, and play audio.
I'm excited about the possibilities.
First, this is a product that solves a simple problem. When you're on the go, to access Alexa, you have to pull out your phone and say Alexa. At home or in the office, you might have an Echo speaker but not on a walk in the park or riding the train to work.
I've been saying this for some time, but when bots become much more pervasive all around us, we will finally reach the point where maybe we don't need to pull out a phone every minute of the day. The Echo Frames don't actually do anything unless you connect to an Android phone in your pocket (sorry iPhone users, they don't work with iOS yet).
I've always thought we're all on a clear path to the day when we'll look back at smartphones and wonder why we always had to carry them around.
The next step after talking to bots all day is to have screens that are around us to show information. Most of our interactions can be by voice, asking about the weather or getting directions. At home and in the office, we will use a computer for "real" work. If we want to watch a YouTube video or play a game, we might still use a phone, but even then, if the displays are all around us, we can use those instead.
And, think about the times when a screen is not actually available.
They are in the backseats of cars, we use them to check-out at a grocery store and to make an order at McDonald's using a kiosk. Part of the reason we're so attached to our phones is that we are so accustomed to using them all day long, but many of the tasks we do on a phone could be done by voice.
It's easier to control lights, the temperature in your house, the garage door, the blinds in your office, and a security alarm by voice. On a phone, it means fishing out the device, finding the app, looking for the setting, and clicking a button.
Of course, there are exceptions. Sometimes, you might want to review your social media activities, and even creating a new Twitter post is easier on a phone than by voice. I can't quite envision the day when we do video editing by voice.
What's changed with Echo Frames is that the in-between times (when we're not in the car, at home, or in the office) benefit greatly from voice interactions. I see a future when a phone is a secondary device, and most of our daily tasks will be accomplished by voice. This includes making calls, distracting a text, asking for directions, making Google searches, and everything in between. Everything minus actual work, perhaps.
Screens will be more useful for detailed work, but then again, I tend to prefer a larger screen for that anyway, like the television or a kitchen display of some kind.
Amazon Echo Frames are brilliant because they bridge the gap for voice control for almost everything else in life.