Amazon’s latest assistant device, the Echo Look, features a microphone and speakers like the other Echos but also has a camera. It’s supposed to be used to take photos of you wearing different clothes each day so it can learn your taste, advice new stuff to buy and even helps you choose between different outfits through machine learning.
That might be awesome for some people but the moment I saw the thing I noticed it’s odd shape with familiar dimensions. Which becomes clear when you spot the icon in the bottom left corner of the product overview.
Yes that’s right — the Echo Look is actually a RealSense camera in a funky housing! More specifically, the product page states that it’s a RealSense SR300. That’s the very same sensor that’s inside 3D System’s Sense 2, a very capable budget 3D Scanner that sells for $370 — on Amazon!
Amazon’s Echo Look costs $200 and uses the depth sensor to differentiate between the person and the background on a photo. Probably to aid feature recognition but it also offers the option to blur the background (in a very unnatural way in my opinion).
Anyway, the question of course is: can I use the Echo Look as a 3D scanner? Probably not. It has no USB connection, so you cannot connect it to a computer like other RealSense devices. So it would require someone to hack the device and enable it to send the RealSense’s data over WiFi (which would be awesome).
What I do like about the Echo Look design are the white LEDs around the RGB camera. That would greatly benefit texture quality for 3D scanning purposes. I usually use a light kit but in worst case scenarios I’ve also had to rely on adding an external LED light to the Sense 2.
If you want to use a RealSense SR300 for less than the $370 of the Sense 2, you can also take a look at the $200 Creative BlasterX Senz3D.
As you can see above I have one and it’s nice. It usually sits on top of my monitor so I can log into Windows 10 with my face but it also works with the RealSense SDK 3D Scan app and the $99 RecFusion 3D Scanning software which I will review soon.
Note: I have also used my Creative Senze3D with 3D System’s Sense for RealSense software but I got messages from readers that later versions of the Creative device might be blocked by serial number and not work with that free software.
So to wrap up. Yes, the Echo Look features a RealSense SR300 sensor and the build-in LEDs are nic. But the lack of USB output means that sensor can’t be accessed easily. Maybe someone will find a work-around but for now the device can only be bought with an invitation.
It generally excites me to see depth sensors being build-in to all kinds of devices. I recently wrote about Hayo, a virtual assistant that can detect in-air gestures to control your smart home — which uses an Orbecc depth sensor.