Let me tell you about my few hours work with Alexa Look yesterday.
Thankfully, Amazon sent me a welcoming email with the links needed. I say thankfully because my email get so much junk thrown into the trash it would have taken hours to find the invite to buy. The email has a nice link to a video showing how to physically set up the Look. It was complete and nicely done but unnecessary. The Look is quite easy to set up: 1)Screw the stand in the bottom 2) plug-in the power 3) set in desired place 4) Alexa talks to you.
This is a small device. My shelf
is 18″ wide 8″ deep. Alexa sits on the top shelf with a 19″ monitor/TV an antique doll and the doll’s doll. Alexa Look, is inconspicuous.
I’d love to say that installation was a snap but I ran into a few snags. My Look will reside downstairs in my sewing room. Most of our computer resources are located upstairs including the big PC, routers and repeaters.
I downloaded the App the night before by going out to Google Play and searching for Amazon Look. I “pushed” the app to my cell phone which takes only a few minutes and opens immediately. Didn’t really want to fuss with it then, I always assume a new program, a new device will need some, ummm, attention.
Next morning I trot downstairs and plug the power into Alexa. While she’s doing her self-check, I sign into my cell (I keep a password on the cell to avoid butt dialing and taking photos of the bottom of my purse). The app was still on the screen (I’m not a heavy cell user) so when Alexa said she was ready, I tapped the button and began the install. Took me 3 tries. I needed to turn on the cell Bluetooth ( never use with my cell). Also needed my Amazon password which I never type in because I have my devices save it. Not saved on the cell because I prefer to do my shopping on something larger, like an IPAD. Didn’t help that I typed in the password twice backwards and had to run upstairs where passwords are kept to verify my password. Then I needed the router’s password (2nd trip upstairs) which to me was odd because that is one of the first things I attended to when, many moons ago, I activated this cell phone and the WIFI password is saved in the cell. Fortunately, right in the app it tells you how to restart Alexa when she times out (tired of waiting on me to get it right, I suppose). At least twice she (Alexa) insisted that the WIFI must be turned on. Which was annoying because my cell has an icon which pulses showing that WIFI is active. I’m looking at the pulsing icon in disbelief as Alexa tells me WIFI is not active and she goes to sleep. I mentioned I have repeaters? I’m assuming part of the issue was the known dead spots in my house which, even with the repeaters, does slow the network down from time to time. Anyway, I repeat the same set up/ registration process 3 times. Just follow the same directions the same way getting things right and she logs in and is ready to go. I mean preview-screen-is-up-and-I’m-looking-at-myself ready-to-go. No more BS. Boom take the first pic.
I did see a noticeable delay between my movements and what is displayed on my cell screen. I’m not sure exactly why that is because otherwise the pass-though from Alexa to blue tooth to cell to WIFI to internet is seamless. No hiccups. I mention this because I’ve had several Android tablets and phones and now an IPAD on which I’ve used blue tooth and subsidiary devices. Some of these devices do not allow connection to WIFI/internet concurrently when connection to them. Some of the devices have a pass through which is cranky at best and always slower than molasses. Again, I’m sure my physical network has a role in the performance. What I want to point out though is that I’ve had previous experience with blue tooth and WIFI and my Alexa experience is superior to all my previous, but there is a noticeable delay between my physical body moving around and displaying them on the cell screen.
Directions say to place the Look about shoulder height and stand 5′ away. I’m standing about 7′ away. My first pic took only the upper half of my body. I’m short (5’2″) and wonder if that had something to do with the upper half only pic. I sat Alexa on the shelf below the TV and took the next pics. I think these turned out really well:
I, the picture subject, am sharp and clear. I am particularly pleased that the back ground is blurred. As I took more pics, I realized I have plenty of time to check my cell screen for position, say the magic words and set my cell down before the pic is snapped i.e. it’s really not necessary to have the cell in my hand as in the above pics. In fact once I say the magic words I have a sec or two before the lights come on. When Alexa lights up, it’s time to assume desired position. There’s no big hurry, but no big delay either. Oh and taking pics is almost as easy as saying “now”. The magic words are “Alexa, Take a pic”. During testing I took 4 pics in quick succession. I did not wait to see them load. Just “Alexa, Take A pic”, change position and repeat. I estimate about 3-5 seconds between pics. They were all there in the app and all as sharp as the pics above.
Let me digress and tell you how I have been taking pics. Camera is stored in a safe place as is my tripod. A tripod was absolutely necessary to position the camera at a level and distance needed to take a full body pic, my preference for fitting evaluations. Both stored in a safe place because “downstairs” is a fully finished basement with cement floors. I’ve killed a number of appliance’s over the years, including 2 other cameras, by dropping them on the basement floor. Carpeting, does not help. It just softens the crash to a thud. Result is the same: broken appliance. So to take pics, I retrieve camera and tripod. Screw camera onto tripod and set them in place. I’ve actually marked the floor to be sure I place them and myself in the same position for every picture to ensure that every picture will be full body. Anyway, retrieval and assembly, then the camera timer must be turned on for every pic. Run to position; straighten self and smile an agonizing 7-8 seconds until the camera flashes. Camera takes about 20 secs to process and be ready for the next pic. Next pic: run to camera, set the timer, run to position, smile. I normally take 4 pics for fitting evaluation: back, side right, front and side left. And I take them in that order. Then I run upstairs to upload pics and evaluate the fit. I go upstairs because my camera has a 2″ screen. It’s hard to view the pics and I can’t enlarge on the camera. Upstairs is the Big PC which also has my photo editing app.
My cell has a 5″ screen with the capability to stretch (enlarge) the pic right on the screen allowing me to look at details. Lots of times during fitting, I want to see wrinkles in a particular area. Being able to stretch the pic is helpful. Being able to see the pics immediately is also helpful. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve moved just as the camera snaps the pic; nor how many empty pics I’ve taken because it snapped before I got into position. In fitting I do see most of the front and side issues in the mirror. Cannot see them all and cannot see what is going on the back view of me. Pics are my salvation. Alexa cuts out a lot of time spent taking pics, running upstairs, editing, evaluating and then running downstairs. Often I may increase a seam 1/8″ or do something else that seems minor but it will have enough effect that I need to check. Which means, ‘nother set up, pic, run up stairs. With Alexa, I’m seeing in mere seconds if my change has had the desired effect and if I need to do something more or move onto something else. I’m one who fixes one thing at a time. I’ve learned in fitting that everything affects everything else. I’ve gone around in circles making and removing alterations. Over time I learned to start at the highest point (shoulders for tops, waist for bottoms) and work out one wrinkle at a time. Frustratingly slow, especially with pics in the mix, but faster than my trying to fix everything at once. Very often, I need fix only one thing and dozens of wrinkles just go away. Alex makes this process so much faster.
Eventually though I do want the pics upstairs on the Big PC. That’s where I write my blog posts; that’s where I store all my files including my pics. (I’m still slightly suspicious of the cloud. I’ve had too many internet services pack up and disappear over night with no prior warning.) The app has a number of features. Pics are displayed in a section of the app under an icon which looks like a person’s head. Tap that and pics are displayed in a thumbnail grid. Locate and double tap the desired pic. It enlarges to fill the whole screen and displays another set of icons including Share. Tap on the share icon, scroll to choose Gmail (my default email on the cell) and tap send. These are pretty much standard gestures on any cell. Upstairs I access my email and download the pic. That process varies depending upon the email package you use. I like to edit my pics at least a little. For one thing, I cut out as much of the back ground as possible that Alexa has kindly blurred.
So this …………………………………….. becomes
or if I want to share details
this ………………………………………. turns into
Now, Alexa may have more tools i.e. it may be possible to do some editing right on my cell. I haven’t read all the instructions or even played with all the icons. Even if I don’t learn anything else about Alexa Look, she has a place in my heart and in my sewing. Truly she improves my fitting process. Totally eliminates some of the steps (that of setting up the camera and setting the timer) and allows me to look at the pics right away without running up stairs, uploading files and editing in a separate program. I think this is one of the best purchases I’ve made in a while. She’s a keeper!