Amazon already knows a lot about its users, thanks to the plethora of data gathered from Alexa-equipped devices and the millions of purchases made on the e-commerce site.
But soon, the tech giant’s AI could be able to do more than just predict users’ morning commute or notify them when they run out of toilet paper.
Amazon is in the process of developing a voice-activated wearable device that can recognize human emotions using a variety of signals, Bloomberg reported.
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Soon, Amazon’s AI could be able to do more than just predict users’ morning commute. The firm is in the process of developing a voice-activated wearable device that can read emotions
The device would be worn on a wrist and could be equipped with microphones and voice-detection software that allow it to interpret human emotions.
It would be able to determine a user’s emotional state just by the sound of their voice, as well as advise the wearer on how to interact more effectively with others, Bloomberg said.
Based on a user’s emotions, it can then suggest products or provide more personalized recommendations.
The device is reportedly being developed at Amazon as part of a secret project being referred to internally as ‘Dylan.’
Amazon’s Lab126, which oversaw hardware projects like the now-defunct Fire phone and the lineup of Echo devices, is working with the Alexa voice software team to build the wearable.
The tech giant declined to comment on the report in response to an inquiry from Mail Online.
It’s not yet clear how far along Amazon is in the development of the device and it’s possible that the wearable will never see the light of day.
Beta testing has begun on the device, though there are scant details about the tests, like whether or not they include tests of the hardware, emotion-detecting software, or both, according to Bloomberg.
Amazon’s Lab126, which oversaw hardware projects like the now-defunct Fire phone and the lineup of Echo devices, is working with the Alexa voice software team to build the wearable
Should it come to fruition, it would be targeted as a health and wellness device that can pair with a smartphone app.
The wearable would build on some of the features detailed in an Amazon patent filed in 2017.
The patent, made public last year, describes a system that analyzes patterns in speech or voice to determine how a user is feeling.
It would be able to detect whether they’re bored or tired, as well as other emotions like joy, anger, sadness and stress.
An image in the patent shows a woman interacting with what appears to be an Amazon Echo, when it detects she might be suffering from a cold based on abnormalities in her voice.
Alexa then suggests a recipe for chicken soup and offers to place an order for cough drops on Amazon.
‘A cough or sniffle, or crying, may indicate that the user has a specific physical or emotional abnormality,’ the patent states.
The move to launch an emotion-detecting wearable comes as Amazon has faced rising concerns around user privacy.
It’s unclear whether consumers would welcome such a device into their homes after Amazon itself confirmed that some of its employees listen to users’ Alexa recordings.
WHY ARE PEOPLE CONCERNED OVER PRIVACY WITH AMAZON’S ALEXA DEVICES?
Amazon devices have previously been activated when they’re not wanted – meaning the devices could be listening.
Millions are reluctant to invite the devices and their powerful microphones into their homes out of concern that their conversations are being heard.
Amazon devices rely on microphones listening out for a key word, which can be triggered by accident and without their owner’s realisation.
The camera on the £119.99 ($129) Echo Spot, which doubles up as a ‘smart alarm’, will also probably be facing directly at the user’s bed.
The device has such sophisticated microphones it can hear people talking from across the room – even if music is playing.
Last month a hack by British security researcher Mark Barnes saw 2015 and 2016 versions of the Echo turned into a live microphone.
Fraudsters could then use this live audio feed to collect sensitive information from the device.