Amazon is developing a voice-activated gadget that can recognize human emotions.
The wrist-worn device is described as a health and wellness product according to internal documents reviewed by Bloomberg, which is being developed in partnership with Lab126, the group behind Amazon’s Fire phone and Echo smart speaker. The Alexa voice software team is also involved.
Designed to work with a smartphone app, the device has microphones paired with software that can discern the wearer’s emotional state from the sound of his or her voice, according to the documents and a person familiar with the program. Eventually the technology could be able to advise the wearer how to interact more effectively with others, the documents show. –Bloomberg
It is unknown how far along the project is, or if the device code-named “Dylan” will ever be brought to market – however work on the project was ongoing recently according to the documents as well as Bloomberg’s source. It is currently being beta tested, though “it’s unclear whether the trial includes prototype hardware, the emotion-detecting software, or both,” according to the report.
Machines that can understand human emotion has been a longtime theme in science fiction – from Star Trek’s Data, to ‘Mike’ from Robert Heinlein’s 1966 The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.
And now, once again, science fiction may become reality, as companies such as Microsoft, Google and IBM – and many others – are developing technologies to decipher emotional states from imagery, audio data and other inputs. Amazon, for example, has discussed a desire to build a more lifelike voice assistant – a technology which could help the company better serve health needs, and of course, better advertise.
As Bloomberg noted last month, Amazon has a team of employees listening in on and annotating audio clips captured by the company’s popular Echo line of voice-activated products.
A U.S. patent filed in 2017 describes a system in which voice software uses analysis of vocal patterns to determine how a user is feeling, discerning among “joy, anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, stress, or other emotional states.” The patent,