The idea for the Echo was an offshoot of Project C, and many of the early employees on the Echo moved over from C. Amazon remains particularly eager to keep this project a secret, even though work on it has stopped. But a sense of the focus and scope of the idea can be gleaned from patent applications filed by engineers at Lab126.
The first activity showed up on Dec. 21 and Dec. 23, 2010, when Lab126 employees applied for five patents whose titles all included the phrase “augmented reality.” Augmented reality—hologram-like displays projected into the physical world—was already a buzzword at the time. An e-commerce company wouldn’t seem like an obvious leader in the field. But Amazon’s patent applications show it was pursuing a vision that goes far beyond anything that exists as a commercial product even today, almost six years after the first patent applications were filed.