Briefing

Amazon announces Echo Frames smart glasses

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The Alexa-enabled glasses will put the company in direct competition with Kitchener-based North, whose Focals smart glasses are also Alexa-enabled. The Echo Frames are part of a suite of products that also includes hands-free earbuds and the Echo Loop, a smart ring enabled with a microphone. The latter recalls the ring North offers to control its smart glasses, also called the Loop. (The Verge)

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Talking point: The Amazon products announced on Wednesday are part of a program the company calls “Day One editions,” meaning they are available by invitation only and may never see a wider release. Amazon was one of the original investors in North’s smart-glasses efforts, contributing to a US$140-million funding round through the Amazon Alexa Fund in 2018. In February, North laid off 150 employees after cutting the price of its Focals from US$999 to US$599. The layoffs resulted in the federal government suspending its investment in the company. Amazon’s smart glasses are currently priced significantly lower, at US$179.99.