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Amazon’s new Echo Frames smartglasses have Alexa, but that’s about it

Amazon announced Echo Frames, an Alexa-enabled pair of glasses, during Wednesday’s Amazon Devices Event. 

Amazon’s Echo Frames look like normal glasses and can be tailored to your individual prescription, but unlike other smart frames on the market, they don’t have a camera or display within the frames —  just Alexa capabilities. 

Alexa responds to your commands through built-in direction speakers, so no one but you can hear the responses. 

The Echo Frames are one of Amazon’s “Day One edition” products that will have limited availability before being released to the general public. Other Day One edition products announced on Wednesday include Echo Buds and an Echo Loop ring. The Echo Frames will be priced at $179.99 during the invite-only period in order to get feedback from select customers before becoming available to all Amazon customers. It’s not clear if the price would change later on after the limited availability. 

Amazon Echo Frames Smart Glasses

Echo Frames would be Amazon’s first branded venture into the smartglasses market, though Amazon Alexa is already a part of tech company North’s smart Focals. North’s Focals offer a number of features, like turn-by-turn directions, weather information, Spotify control, audio recording, and more. Like a smartwatch, it serves as an extension of your phone, showing you notifications and the ability to access Alexa and respond to text messages.

More and more tech companies are trying to perfect smartglasses for consumers. Of course, there are Snapchat’s Spectacles which can capture your world in a 3D view or take still images. Facebook is also reportedly looking into entering the smartglasses market with a new product it hopes will permanently replace smartphones. The glasses, known internally as Orion, would be able to take phone calls, show information via a small display in the frames, and allow people to livestream what they see to social media followers.

Other companies haven’t been as successful in the glasses market: in 2013, Google’s Google Glass failed quickly due to the lack of proper software and the glasses’ awkward appearance. Glass has since been revived for the corporate user as the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2, which has a $999 price tag.

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