Financial Times is reporting that Amazon Alexa smart glasses are in development. The report, which was not confirmed by Amazon (we know what that’s like), said the product would require smartphone connectivity.
The device, which would tether wirelessly to a smartphone, is designed to look like a regular pair of spectacles so that it could be worn comfortably and unobtrusively, the people said. A bone-conduction audio system would allow the wearer to hear Alexa without having to insert headphones into their ears.
Amazon Alexa Everywhere
The article suggests that this is a risky move for Amazon to enter a category that is known for the high profile failure of Google Glass. However, Amazon doesn’t have a smartphone platform to leverage like rivals Apple and Google. As a result, Amazon lacks a near-field voice assistant solution that is with an Alexa user when outside the home. There will be earbuds like Bragi that include Alexa support, but those platforms are likely to offer users a choice of several voice assistants. Alexa-enabled glasses would offer Amazon a closed platform to showcase its voice assistant in a mobile setting.
Launching smart glasses might seem fanciful except that it is consistent with Amazon’s strategy that Voicebot has called “Alexa everywhere.” Amazon has made great strides in getting Alexa embedded in third party devices, including some that compete directly with the company’s Echo line of products. Amazon is more concerned about making Alexa available than selling devices. Glasses are a product category where Amazon is not likely to see a third party partner take the lead, so the company is apparently jumping in to fill the gap.
Moving from the Smart Speaker to Personal Voice Connectivity
While the smart speaker battles have barely begun, we are seeing a rapid shift to competition in other device form factors. Apple’s AirPods are every bit as innovative as Amazon Echo. AirPods provide instant personal access to Siri at any time. Echo provides access to Alexa from any room. Amazon could develop smart earbuds and may have some in production. However, smart glasses may provide another avenue to get Alexa on the person. Amazon may not have a smartphone platform, but there are more options to become a personal mobile voice assistant than just a phone. Even Apple showed this last week with the launch of Watch 3 with LTE that provides cellular and Siri connectively without a smartphone.