Amazon is preparing a foray into the wearables market with a pair of smart glasses, designed to integrate directly with the company’s virtual voice assistant Alexa.
The Financial Times, citing people familiar with the plans, reported that the smart glasses would work by tethering to smartphones, while allowing the wearer to listen to Alexa without having to wear headphones through a bone conduction audio speaker.
The device will be designed to look like a regular pair of glasses so that they can be worn comfortably and unobtrusively, in a bid to overcome some of the challenges facing previous iterations of such a wearable.
Launching a pair of glasses is no doubt risky for Amazon, given the fact that the product line is largely an unknown territory, and it remains to be seen how it will be received by consumers.
Google, for example, unveiled Google Glass in 2012, but a full consumer launch was scrapped because of concerns over battery and design issues.
Social media player Snap launched Snap Spectacles in September 2016, but the device remains largely in its infancy.
Apple was also reportedly mulling a move into digital glasses last year, but nothing concrete has emerged.
The move could however be crucial to Amazon’s long term ambitions in staying relevant with its virtual assistant, given the competition.
Apple, which is set to launch a smart speaker similar to Amazon’s line-up, also has the iPhone for consumers to access virtual assistant Siri directly.
In the same way, those with Android phones can access Google Assistant.
The use of Alexa remains limited to these devices via a third party app, and a pair of smart glasses would provide Amazon a route to enable Alexa to communicate directly with the consumer.
On the back of its success with its Alexa-enabled smart speakers, the FT added Amazon is also set to push further into the home with more products.
It is reportedly developing a home security camera system, which would integrate with Echo products and allow people, for instance, to see a video feed of any such surveillance on the Echo Show screen.
The company’s secretive Lab 126 has a product development team that is studying the home market to see what else it could launch, added the report.