Does the Amazon Echo Look have a built-in security risk?

Amazon has just announced its newest addition to Echo family: Echo Look, a cutting edge device that doubles as your BFCF (best-fashion-conscious-friend).

Echo Look responds to voice commands, just like the original Echo. You can use it to play songs, list news headlines, play trivia. It also still has full Alexa functionality. What’s new? Echo Look includes a wifi camera specifically for taking photos of you and your fashion choices. This allows you to check “which outfits pop” and which ones just hang there.

And it’s raising public concern over bringing a dedicated camera linked to the biggest retail giant in America into our homes or other private locations.

A live feed to your phone means you can use Echo Look as a full-length mirror and see angles that you’d normally miss. Record, save, and replay your entire wardrobe – with every imaginable combination – in Look’s library, that has a handy log for tracking favourites.

Still can’t choose between two outfits? Time for a Style Check. Submit two different wardrobe choices and for a Look second opinion. Once you’ve decided which outfit to wear, you can upload the outfit(s) to your fav social media platform for full-body selfie-sharing.

Amazon boasts that the Style Check system suggests enhancements for your outfit and overall look by combining “the best of machine learning with advice from fashion specialists.”

And not coincidentally, the links provided in their ‘suggestions’ are almost exclusively from Amazon stores.

Amazon says it will not supply your data to third-party websites, and you do have the choice of opting out from receiving personalized ads.

Machine Learning & Amazon’s Echo Look

Machine learning allows Look to identify specific objects captured by the camera: shirts, jewelry, shoes, etc.. That also means Look can identify other objects in your home. And because we most often get dressed near our closets, Echo Look’s camera is identifying things in our bedroom.

These personal objects are easily plucked out of the data stream and can be used to upsell you for items that you usually buy. Want to avoid the upsell? When posting photos on social media and online, Look offers an important ‘blurred background’ option. This restricts your shared info strictly to fashion choices.

Amazon doesn’t clearly state “what the risks are” Susan Liautaud, a Stanford University ethicist, told WIRED in a recent interview. According to Liautaud, the prominent risks centre around “what it might accidentally pick up, ” and the subsequent invasion of privacy risk.

To date, Amazon has not supplied a separate security policy for the Echo Look.

With a price tag of $200 USD, Echo Look is currently available “by invitation only” to US customers. If it becomes a hit, Echo Look will quickly be snapping pictures in in bedrooms and department store changing room throughout the world.

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