Amazon’s new patent will allow Alexa to detect a cough or a cold


Amazon is constantly trying to improve Alexa, its AI-assistant. A recent patent filed by the company shows just how: it wants Alexa to notice a user’s illness by detecting a change in their voice.

Furthermore, it wants to suggest medicines or a recipe for chicken soup. But that’s not it. The patent suggests Amazon wants Alexa to detect more things:

  • Emotional states, so spotting things like happiness, joy, sadness, anger, boredom, and fear
  • The sound of the user’s voice or breath, to see if they’re sleepy or crying, for example
  • Where the user is, something it’ll do by analyzing the background noise
  • The user’s accent like Chinese, Indian, British, American, Latin, and Australian
  • The age and gender of the user

Amazon aims to use this data and send ads to users. For instance, if the user has a sore throat, it might play a cough syrup ad or suggest a restaurant to order chicken soup from.

Credit: Amazon
Alexa’s conversation with a user with an ill user

If the someone is bored, it could play an ad about a new album release or tell them a joke. Of course, Amazon would allow advertisers to target their product at people displaying specific traits.

The language and age detection will allow Amazon to serve relevant geographical and age-based content.

The e-commerce giant is taking a keen interest in understanding users’ behavior and make Alexa react in a particular manner. Last month, it launched a feature called Whisper – where Alexa would whisper back the answer for a question asked in a lower voice – for quieter environments.

In June, Amazon announced a partnership with the UK’s National Health Service to diagnose symptoms for medical conditions through Alexa.

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As is the case with many patents, these features might never become reality. If they did, AI assistants could understand you better and serve you in a more personal way. However, many users might this very invasive. Whatever happens, it’ll be interesting to see how Amazon manages this in the future.

Source: The Next Web

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