Amazon will release a wearable smart ring with Alexa packed into it. Yes, you read that correctly — the new Echo Loop is a ring that lets you keep Alexa literally at your fingertips.
Announced at Amazon’s Devices event on Wednesday, the Echo Loop has two microphones you can activate with a button tap, as well as the smallest speaker ever installed in an Echo device.
There is also a built-in haptic engine that vibrates when you receive a notification or a call, or to notify you that your request has been received. It’s essentially the same as when Alexa responds “Okay,” when you ask her to perform an action, but far more discreet. The Echo Loop manages to pack all of this technology and functionality into a form factor the size of a titanium wedding band.
The Echo Loop pairs with your phone much like any other wearable would. Once paired, you can access Alexa without pulling out your phone. It’s perfect for those small, day-to-day tasks like turning on the lights or performing a quick calculation. You can speak softly to the microphones in the Echo Loop and Alexa will hear you perfectly, and respond in kind: soft enough that her words aren’t likely to be overheard.
The Echo Loop will be available later this year in limited volumes on an invite-only basis. Amazon is limiting the number of devices available in order to receive customer feedback and improve the functionality of the smart ring. The Loop will retail for $99 during the invite period. Keep in mind that this is not a Beta test of the Loop, but a way for Amazon to gain a bit of insight into whether customers are interested in a more esoteric style of device.
The Echo Loop will most likely connect to your phone via Bluetooth, but it may also make use of another service Amazon announced at its event: Amazon Sidewalk. Amazon Sidewalk is said to tap into radio frequencies to expand how far you can control your smart devices. While more specific details about the Loop are not yet known, it is possible that Amazon Sidewalk might come into play in some way.
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