In Depth

Could Amazon's Echo Look be a privacy concern?

Fashion-based virtual assistant has 'potential for invasive data collection', reports warn

Amazon's Echo Look, which uses artificial intelligence to suggest outfits for its user to wear, has unveiled to mixed reactions, with some praising the new fashion device and others warning it could spark fears over privacy. 

The virtual assistant allows owners to take photos or videos of themselves in different outfits and upload them to a "Style Check" feature, which recommends the best clothes to wear. 

Its companion smartphone app can also "suggest clothes for users to buy based on their style selections", using machine learning that opens "another revenue stream for Amazon", says TechCrunch.

It's a clever system "designed to condition users to feed it with the training data Amazon needs to build a fashion savvy AI", transforming the company into one that "understands personal taste so it can do the leg work and shop for you", adds the website. 

However, Wired warns the Echo Look has the "overwhelming potential for invasive data collection".

As "machine learning is smart", the Look could "notice that you are low on toilet paper" and try to sell you more through carefully targeted adverts. 

It also has the potential to style and sell products based on the user's mood or body shape, although "machine learning can't do that yet in enough detail to alarm". 

Analyst Ben Wood of CSS Insight told the BBC the Echo Look may appeal to "younger people that happily share regular moments of their life via SnapChat and Instagram", but older generations could see it as "completely unnecessary" or a privacy invasion "in the context of a device that it makes sense to have in a bedroom". 

Amazon is currently offering the $200 (£155) Echo Look to potential buyers "on an invitation-only basis", reports Engadget, although sales could be open to the public at a later date. 

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