Stunning Gadget Check? Amazon Echo Loop!
Amazon took a damned Echo speaker and put it in a ring, calling it the Echo Loop. It’s part of an Amazon program called “Day1,” which is code for “there’s a bunch of products that aren’t really ready for mass sales, but we’d like to put them out there anyway.” The first two are the smart eyeglass frames and that little ring.
It works, but not very loud is the audio. That’s probably a combination of design and necessity because you don’t want everyone here to know what you’re doing. Inside there’s a small button, and with your thumb, you reach in and press it. There’s a tiny vibration when you do, which confirms Alexa’s listening.
You don’t do this when it’s just sitting next to you, on a desk or something. The idea is to raise it to your mouth and whisper your request like a tiny secret that you tell a robot that lives on your finger inside a piece of strange tech jewelry. Alexa responds in a very quiet, tinny voice after using Bluetooth to get to the internet through your phone. It was hard to hear in a loud room.
The biggest announcements from Amazon’s fall 2019 hardware event That’s kind of the length and breadth of this $179.99 limited quantity device (there’s a $129.99 “introductory” price), but there are some interesting details I’ve learned with it in my time:
It comes in four sizes: Small, Medium, Big, and Extra Big. For demos here, Amazon used the extra-large. A ring sizing kit will be sent to customers with plastic fake Echo Loops so that they can pick up their ideal size. The battery with “intermittent use” should last “about a day.”
It can vibrate when you receive notifications, just like a smartwatch, but you can’t have custom vibrations for different notifications.
You can long-press the button to get to your phone’s default voice assistant, like Siri or Google Assistant.
To accept or reject calls, you can use the button, but not to play or pause music. And there’s no accelerometer or whatever if you just want to tap the whole ring.
To speed up a favorite contact, you can also use the button.
I also learned that I had an extra-large ring. Think of it as one of the corny rings you might have been hustled into buying as a senior high school. I don’t hate the way it looks. Then again, as you may see in the photos below, my wedding ring is a plain brushed metal gray thing which — coincidentally — I bought from Amazon for less than 20 bucks.
Either way, it’s got some heft to it. It can be felt. And if you really want to have access to Alexa at all times, it could be the most convenient way until Amazon manages to make a phone again or convince Apple or Google to join its interoperability club as a voice assistant. I bet Amazon would be pleased to create commemorative membership rings if they did.