Your face could be the next place for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to invade.
Amazon’s is reportedly working on a pair of Alexa-powered smart glasses that could be announced at an upcoming product launch event, the Financial Times reports. The glasses would be strictly operated with voice controls and wouldn’t have a built-in camera like Google Glass or Snapchat Spectacles.
The report also claims the smart glasses resemble regular frames, connect wirelessly to phones (presumably via Bluetooth), and use bone-conduction technology to vibrate sound off your skull and into your ears.
Interestingly, Amazon’s smart glasses might not even have a display. “Amazon’s glasses are likely to do away with the camera and screen that made Glass so controversial among privacy campaigners,” the report says.
Amazon’s smart glasses might not even have a display.
Besides alleviating privacy concerns, the FT posits battery life could also get a big boost if Amazon’s wearable really doesn’t have a camera or screen.
If true, it would put Amazon’s smart glasses in a weird position. If they’re just regular-looking glasses with Alexa voice controls, they wouldn’t compete with with the myriad augmented reality glasses, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, that are gaining popularity. Facebook has also made it no secret that it’s building and that they could be .
Amazon first showed interest in building a pair of smart glasses when it was granted a patent for a pair back in 2015, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The patent describes a pair of smart glasses that connects to tablet and has a screen on its lenses that can transition from transparent to opaque.
Per the patent:
Single-touch immersion control of head-mounted display (HMD) systems is described. One method outputs video from an electronic device to a HMD system that includes a display layer and a variable-transparency layer. The electronic device controls the variable-transparency layer to operate in a first state in which the variable-transparency layer is transparent and to operate in a second state in which the variable-transparency layer is opaque. The electronic device switches between the second state and the first state in response to a single-touch event detected by the electronic device.
It’s still unclear if any of the methods or technology described in this specific patent will be used in Amazon’s rumored Alexa glasses.
In addition to all of this, the FT report says Amazon could announce a new home security camera that connects to its Echo devices. The company is also expected to refresh its Echo smart speakers at an upcoming event. A leak a few weeks ago might have revealed at least one of the new products: a cube-shaped Fire TV with the Echo’s Alexa and far-field microphone technology built right in.
Amazon has yet to publicly announce a product launch event, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for when it finally does.