Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Amazon’s vision for Echo Frames in an Apple Vision Pro era

Key Takeaways

  • The latest Amazon Echo Frames are meant for everyday use and won’t dominate your face like AR/VR headsets do.
  • The sound quality of the Echo Frames is nothing to sneeze at either, providing an immersive experience while still allowing awareness.
  • Integrated Alexa in the Echo Frames offer everyday “superpowers,” making daily tasks easier and more productive.
  • Add it all up, and you get a minimalist yet smart eyewear experience in an Apple Vision Pro era.

Smart glasses, while around for more than a decade, haven’t achieved the same level of mainstream fashion and cultural integration as smartwatches, fitness trackers, or even wireless headphones. Recently, however, the narrative is starting to change, with companies like Meta partnering with RayBan, startups like Brilliant Labs capitalizing on generative AI, and headset popularity rising in general due to the Apple Vision Pro breaking boundaries.

And while there’s simultaneously a new focus on AR and VR, which are promising a Sci-Fi-level innovation for the future, Amazon’s third-generation Echo Frames go back to the mission and intention of “smart” technology: Making everyday tasks simple.

Amazon’s third generation Echo Frames go back to the “smart” technology mission and intention — a focus on making everyday tasks simple.

After testing and reviewing Amazon’s smart glasses myself, I spoke with Jean Wang, Amazon’s director of smart eyewear, to learn more about the 3rd-Gen Echo Frames and what makes them stand out, especially with AR/ VR smart eyewear now available.

Read my review

Amazon’s latest Echo Frames are my new favorite WFH accessory

Stylish and comfortable, Amazon’s newest Echo Frames provide quality audio and blue-light filtering, making for my perfect productivity comb.

Amazon Echo Frames gen 3 on nightstand with yellow background

Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen, 2023)

It’s all about the aethestic

They’re smart streetwear

Amazon’s smart glasses come in five designs for blue-light and prescription models, in addition to two sunglasses options.

Made with Italian acetate, the glasses are durable and sturdy but light. When I tested them, I found the temple tips actually had less pressure-build up than my Warby Parker prescription glasses. Plus, I loved that they didn’t dominate my appearance, like typical AR and VR headsets do, but instead preserve or even elevate my self-proclaimed “editor chic” aesthetic. According to Wang, that’s exactly what she and her team want the Frames to accomplish.

“With our Gen 3, we want consumers to have something that you feel comfortable and really beautiful with and feel absolutely yourself and ideally the best version of yourself when you interact with others,” said Wang. “I think the Carrera [glasses] are definitely iconic. If you put the Cruisers on, it’s kind of like instantly you’re in Miami. You just automatically raise your cool level by five times.”

Wang and her team collaborated with eyewear company Safilo — specifically the Carrera brand — to develop the sunglasses Sprinter and Cruiser designs to elevate the look even further. While I’ve yet to test the new Carrera Cruisers, it’s exciting to see this combination of smarts, style, and UV-blocking abilities.


Amazon’s Echo Frames get a spec bump and a style upgrade from Carrera

Amazon’s third generation smart glasses are looking more appealing than ever.

Immersive yet open-ear sound

You can be engaged and present

Young woman with dark hair working and wearing 3rd-Gen Amazon Echo Frames

As an audiophile, I have to admit I had relatively low expectations of the Echo Frames’ sound quality. These low-expectations were quickly dashed upon slipping on the glasses, playing Taylor Swift’s I Think I Did Something Bad, and feeling each pronounced downbeat.

That phenomenon, according to Wang, is due to Amazon’s attention to improving its open-ear technology.

I felt immersed in the quality, albeit with a slightly more compressed sound than traditional earbuds. I was still well aware of the jingle jangle of my puppy’s collar as he wrestled with his favorite toy below my desk. It was fairly comparable to open-ear or bone conduction headphones.

That, according to Wang, is due to Amazon’s attention to improving its open-ear technology: “It’s a really important part of being engaged with the world,” Wang said. “And so it’s not just having superpowers, but actually also being present in what you’re doing.”

Both Wang and I share the experience of liking to wear the Echo Frames while doing laundry or when we want to be aware of our surroundings, like while cooking, so we can still hear the grease pop on the pan. This awareness, Wang explained, is thanks to the improved algorithm.

“There’s the general, beating, beaming with sound to your ears. And there’s also a couple of mics in the system as well. And so that helps us, there’s the acoustic echo cancellation. And so we make sure to listen to your ambient environment, and make sure to cancel any echoes coming through.”

When I’m using Amazon’s Echo Frames, however, I’m often so present in the music and focused on what I’m doing — partially also thanks to the glasses’ blue light filter, which helps prevent my eyes from straining — that I sometimes won’t even hear my colleague calling my name.


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The Amazon Echo Frames use an algorithm with beamforming technology to direct sound straight to your ears, allowing for a customizable listening experience. I can turn the volume up quite a bit, as I don’t care if there is any sound spillage, and I can immerse myself as if wearing headphones. If I want to be more aware, especially living in New York City, I have that option as well.

There’s Alexa integration, of course

It’s how the smart stuff comes into play


We know her, we love her. Alexa — she can play music, control your smart home, and with the Echo Frames, she’s that much closer. As an Amazon staple, it makes sense that Alexa would be a focal point, but for Wang and her team, it’s more than an obligatory inclusion, but what they believe is a doorway to unlocking users’ everyday superpowers.

“We also believe that having smart eyewear and something close to your ears — your senses — is really an opportunity for us to provide more superpowers to you throughout your day,” Wang said.



How to use your Amazon Echo as a Bluetooth speaker

Amazon’s Echo speakers offer plenty of smart home functionalities, but you can also connect to your smartphone to use as a Bluetooth speaker.

By asking your Frames as you’d ask any other Alexa device — such as an Echo Show, Dot, or Pop — she can make your wish an action item.

“I love listening to her with Audible, or listening to Alexa on Audible. So I’ll be doing my laundry [while adding to my] shopping lists, and I feel extra productive,” Wang saud.

I’ll be wearing them when brushing my kids’ teeth and will realize we’re out of toothpaste, and I just quickly Alexa toothpaste to the cart, or buy toothpaste.

Something I underutilized in my initial testing, but Wang reminded me of, is Alexa’s connection to Amazon’s storefront.

“I’ll be wearing them when brushing my kids’ teeth and will realize we’re out of toothpaste, and I just quickly ‘Alexa toothpaste to the cart, or buy toothpaste’,” Wang said.

And so the Echo Frames are for multitaskers — who want to listen to their audio along with their surroundings, who want to block out blue light or sunrays, and who want to easily accomplish everyday tasks with the help of Alexa. All while looking fantastic.


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“It’s all these little moments that really show you the capabilities and technology, and Alexa, as a superpower, is going and can go,” Wang added.

A note about accessibility

Along with Alexa’s everyday command and response actions, the Echo Frames also offer a nonchalant, unobtrusive solution for those who have accessibility needs.

“With just a simple command while working at a computer, someone who can’t easily get up and grab the light switch can quickly interact with [their] smart home, for example,” Wang said. “We also have people who have executive assumption, or admin, who just having something like Alexa [that helps] them remember is part of that core utility.”

Amazon is focused on the future of now

A minimalistic experience in an AR/VR world

 3rd-Gen Amazon Echo Frames charging

While Alexa aids in Wang’s mission to provide Frame users with “everyday superpowers”, the glasses still aren’t as high-tech Apple Vision Pro or nowhere near something as futuristic as what Tony Stark would casually cobble up in the MCU. For users like me, who aren’t quite ready to mix my tangible reality with a virtual or augmented one — no matter how productive it can supposedly be — I’m happy with the Eco Frames. In fact, this is what Wang and her team want, too.

It’s about creating the most useful and a minimalistic experience that gets the job done and helps people feel wonderful when they wear the product.

“I think it’s about creating the most useful and a minimalistic experience that gets the job done and helps people feel wonderful when they wear the product,” Wang explained. “Whether it’s just by themselves or with those around them, so that’s been our focus for this generation, user generations up to this point.”

So, even if the Echo Frames have a point where they follow the AR/ VR trend, the third generation is currently adhering to simplicity and interaction. It is what makes them special today — both to Wang and to users like me.


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