Amazon discontinuing Glow kid-focused VC device

Amazon is suspending the Amazon Glow, its video calling/interactive gaming device created to let households interact remotely with each other, as conveyed by Bloomberg.

The device is already inaccessible on Amazon’s website. Amazon is hauling on from the kids-focused video calling device just over a year after it was first presented.

Of course, Amazon has never shied away from creating strange gadgets that need a bit of explanation, but the latest Amazon Glow might take the prize for the most unexplored in many years.

It’s a videoconferencing device that also includes a tabletop projector assembled into it. The view is that younger children get quickly bored with video chats and wander off, leaving their remote relatives staring at an empty screen. So the Amazon Glow can project books, games, or puzzles onto a table that children and their parents (or grandparents) can recreate together.

Amazon Glow will cost $299.99 when unleashed widely, but for now, anybody who wants one will need to apply to an invite-only program. It arrives with a year of the Amazon Kids Plus content service, a two-year warranty against all breaks and spills, and a set of interactive tangram shapes kids can employ to solve puzzles. The first units should dispatch in mid-October and only in the US.

Placing up the Amazon Glow will presumably be the first challenge for parents. It has Amazon’s characteristically good parental authorities, so to get the device going, parents will log in and set up a list of people their child can call.

But it also includes the added challenge of not being the only mechanism they’ll require to set up. On the other end of every call, the parent or grandparent will require to install the Amazon Glow app on their notepad — it serves with iPads and Android tablets, with Amazon’s Fire tablets coming soon. It can also operate with phones, but it’s not flawless.

So a parent will theoretically learn how to set up the Glow, teach their child the basics, then finally teach their parents or relatives how the tablet apps work.

The Glow is designed to sit on an indoor table, preferably not close to a brightly lit window. It has an eight-inch screen for video chat, and it projects a second 19-inch screen down on a flat white mat that arrives with the device. A kid can call their relative by clicking a speed dial button on the front-facing screen; from there, it functions like any other video chat app. “At Amazon, we think big, experiment, and fund new ideas to delight customers,” Amazon spokesperson Tim Gillman said in a statement.

“We also continually evaluate the progress and potential of our products to deliver customer value, and we regularly make adjustments based on those assessments. We will be sharing updates and guidance with Glow customers soon.” Gillman declined to share further details.

The actual Amazon Glow hardware consisted of a teleconferencing device with a built-in tabletop projector that could project games or puzzles on a special mat. The idea was that a kid could play games on the mat while video chatting with a parent or family member on another device (Amazon recommended using a tablet). In her Glow review, Jennifer Pattison Tuohy praised many of the games and the product’s intuitive interface. Still, she criticized it for being occasionally buggy and taking up a lot of space.

It’s unclear how well the Glow sold — probably not since Amazon is discontinuing it just over a year after announcing it — but according to Bloomberg, it only had about 500 reviews, which is quite low for an Amazon products.