So one of the popular topics this month is the fact that Amazon has been launching all sorts of new products surrounding the Amazon Echo lineup. From a Dolby Atmos equipped speaker to a pair of glasses (Echo Frames) they are working on. However, what we want to talk about today is their new Echo Loop. An Echo that you can carry on your hand everywhere you go.
The Echo Loop is a smart ring that you can slide onto one of your fingers and access Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant anytime, anywhere. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and the Alexa app (to configure and further interact with). It has two small microphones for your voice as well as a tiny speaker to listen with. It offers vibrations for notifications and a small button to trigger Alexa with. It also supports Google Assistant or Siri if you long-press the button.
There is no screen or anything to check messages with. If it isn’t something you can’t get out of vibration or announcement from the small speaker, you have to pull your phone out and go to the app. Therefore it is a very discrete solution.
It makes for an interesting idea, but Amazon is still weighing the idea of launching it to the masses. There are obvious reasons for this as it all comes down to how many people would actually be interested in owning something like this. There is also the question of privacy. If consumers are worried about the Echo speakers listening to you, imagine how concerned they would be about an Echo that follows them everywhere (despite the fact that it does require a trigger button to listen).
So right now it is all about being a beta program to see how well consumers respond to it. You can buy one but you have to request an invitation to purchase. They haven’t exactly released a specific date that it will start shipping though, so that part is still a mystery. There seems to be popularity surrounding next month for some of these new products so you might see it as early as then.
You can request the invitation to order/pre-order one right here on Amazon. The price is currently set at $129.99, which does seem a bit high, so you are likely paying for R&D more than anything. If it does make it to the public, you might (might…) just see that price drop a little.
At the same time, Apple has recently won a number of patents surrounding smart ring technology. They may mostly be concepts at the moment, but they now own them nonetheless, creating risks for companies like Amazon when it comes to infringement cases (battle over intellectual property).