In science fiction popular culture, we’ve seen stories of humans inventing devices that can read human emotions for various reasons. With the developments in technology today, a piece of tech that can do that is not that impossible anymore. Reports are saying that Amazon is actually developing a health and wellness device that will be able to recognize human emotions through a person’s voice patterns. For what end though is anyone’s guess but since it’s Amazon after all, it’s probably related to e-commerce of some kind.
Based on documents obtained by Bloomberg and their source familiar to the matter, the project is a voice-activated wrist-worn gadget. Code-named Dylan, the project is actually a collaboration between Lab126, the company’s hardware development group, and the Alexa voice software team. Documents show that the device will be equipped with microphones and it will be paired with software that is trained to analyse the wearer’s emotional state through their voice.
There have also been previous patents filed that may be related to this. Back in 2017, there was a patent for a system with voice analysis software that can recognize “joy, anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, stress, or other emotional states.” When the digital assistant picks up a pattern, it can recommend products that can help with their “abnormal emotional condition”. There was also another patent for a system that would help distinguish the user’s voice from other background noises.
Of course all theses pieces of information doesn’t mean that this will become reality. Amazon does let its teams experiment with various projects but not all make it to the commercial stage. The device will supposedly advise the user on how to interact more effectively given their current emotional state but it’s highly likely that it will be used more to recommend products and target advertising. It will of course raise some privacy issues, given how aware we are of the amount of data that companies like Amazon are gathering.
As expected, Amazon did not make a comment regarding this story. But having a product like this makes business sense for them especially since they want to be on the “cutting-edge” of speech recognition technology and have a leg up on the Siris and Google Assistants of this world.