An essential add-on, or the next Fire phone?
The FT said the new glasses would connect wirelessly to a smartphone and would boast a “bone-conduction audio system” allowing the person wearing the spectacles to hear Alexa’s voice without headphones.
The move is a risky one, given the difficulty that the likes of Google and Apple have had in making wearables mainstream over recent years. And Amazon itself has had its fair share of expensive failures in hardware in the past —notably with its Fire smartphone, on which it took a $170 million write down. However, Jeff Bezos’s company feels it’s worth the risk because it can enhance in a big way a product that has already proved extremely popular. Assistants such as Alexa are an integral part of the suite of smart home products and services that is growing rapidly. The FT noted that Babak Parviz, the founder of Google’s ill-fated smart glasses project, and other former Google Glass researchers now work at Amazon’s labs.
As the FT points out, a wearable and always-on Alexa allows Amazon to make good one of its key shortcomings. While an iPhone user can call Siri or an Android phone users can summon Google’s Assistant, the current Alexa app needs you to unlock the phone first. The Alexa wearable, meanwhile, would always be on.
The FT said Amazon could launch the new product before year-end.