Amazon Echo Look: What’s the Move for Black Consumers?

  • Amazon’s Echo Look is now available throughout the U.S.
  • Amazon sells facial recognition technology to U.S. police departments

Amazon (AMZN +0.30%) personal style assistant Echo Look is available throughout the U.S. The device will take a picture or video of you and provide feedback on the clothes you’re wearing. What should black consumers consider when determining whether or not to purchase this device?

Why This Matters: Amazon sells it's facial “Rekognition" system to police departments in Oregon and Florida. Facial recognition technology has higher error rates for African Americans and could lead to incidents of racial profiling. Black consumers should consider if Amazon’s facial “Rekognition" system is going to access information from the Echo Look, potentially ending up in police department databases across the U.S.

One could also argue the Echo Look technology could improve error rates if Amazon is successful in shipping this technology to millions of homes. Brian Brackeen, CEO of facial recognition startup Kairos states “in the case of algorithmic ethnic bias, the system can only be as diverse in its recognition of ethnicities as the catalogue of photos on which it has been trained.” So the more photos Echo Look is able to add to it's system, the better facial recognition technology will be able to reduce it's error rate.

What’s Next: Amazon will hold its next quarterly earnings report the week of July 25. The company typically holds the performance of new products close to its chest for a while before making results public. Look out for whether we get clues regarding the extent to which consumers are buying the Echo Look.

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