Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Amazon’s Echo Look Reviewed

Lauren Goode tried Amazon’s outfit-picking robot for the Verge, and it didn’t exactly thrill her:

I’m finding as I get older, however, that what I’m wearing is less about what’s cool right now right this minute and more about practicality. Is this item appropriate for a funeral? Is this too casual for an interview, or too precious for a casual coffee? Am I going to be freezing at a friend’s wedding if I wear this? If the answer is yes: why are you not recommending I buy a jacket or shawl for that? Is this something that someone half my age would wear? (Yes, if it’s in the Juniors department.) I’m looking for more context, basically. Amazon, perhaps more than any e-commerce company, has the ability to do this. Amazon says this is “just the beginning” with the Echo Look and that it will get smarter over time, but the Echo Look app is just not there yet.

I sometimes forget to check the weather before getting dressed for the day and end up wearing something grotesquely inappropriate for the conditions. About a week ago, I wore a light sweater because I stepped out on my balcony before work and it was a bit chilly. It ended up being nearly 30°C, which is only sweater weather if you spend a lot of time on the Sun’s anvil.

That’s the kind of thing I feel the Echo Look should be best at doing, but it doesn’t sound like those kinds of recommendations are necessarily reliable.

It seems to be a fairly confused kind of a device. On the one hand, it can keep track of the outfits you wear daily so that you don’t find yourself wearing the same one to meet with the same clients a week apart, which should be appealing to those more fashion-conscious. On the other hand, if you’re fashion-conscious, you probably wouldn’t place much trust in a robot telling you what to wear, or what to buy:

I wasn’t really expecting spot-on clothing recommendations from Amazon just yet, try as it might to establish itself in the fashion world. But it never recommended shoes or accessories (which I am most likely to buy from Amazon), and it had a tendency to suggest I shop for other items in a similar color pattern (if I already have a blue blouse I don’t need another blue blouse). It also once suggested I might be interested in a similar top from the Junior’s department even though I haven’t shopped in that section of a store in a very long time.

Steven Frank in 2015:

“I see you bought a vacuum cleaner. Do youuu… want another one?” — Amazon

I rag on Siri a lot, but Amazon almost certainly has the world’s largest database of shopping trends. Surely they could do better than suggesting stuff that’s identical to what you already own or just bought. If their AI can’t get that right, why would you trust it to dress you every day?