Amazon patents Alexa tech to tell if you’re sick, depressed and sell you meds

An Amazon echo.

Amazon has a patented technology that could allow Alexa to analyze your voice to determine if you are sick or depressed and to sell you products based on your physical or emotional condition.

The patent entitled "Voice Determination of the Physical and Emotional Characteristics of Users", was published on Tuesday this week; Amazon filed the patent application in March 2017.

The patent describes a voice assistant capable of detecting "abnormal" physical or emotional conditions. "For example, physical ailments such as sore throat and cough can be determined at least in part by a user's voice, and conditions such as an excited emotional state or a sad emotional state. can be determined at least in part on the voice of a user, "says the patent. "A cough or sniffle, or crying, may indicate that the user has a specific physical or emotional abnormality."

The ads that would be sent based on the emotional state of the user are unclear, but it is possible to ask a sick person if they wish to buy a cold medicine.

"A current physical and / or emotional state of the user may facilitate his or her ability to provide the user with highly targeted audio content, such as commercials or audio promotions," the patent states.

If the Amazon voice assistant determines that you are threatened, the system will "communicate with the audio content server (s)" to select the appropriate announcement. "For example, some content, such as cough suppressants or flu drugs, may be for users with sore throats," says the patent.

Alexa could then ask, "Would you like to order cough lozenges in less than an hour?" Once the order is placed, the voice assistant "can add a message to the audible confirmation, for example, personal wishes or" feel better! ""

The system could raise confidentiality issues

Companies get patents all the time for technologies never put on the market. There is therefore no guarantee that this feature will be implemented in future versions of Alexa.

Amazon should take into account the privacy implications of letting its voice assistant analyze the emotional and physical states of its customers. Last month, Amazon and other companies in the tech sector were called to a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee on the privacy of consumer data.

In addition to analyzing your physical or emotional states, the patent for Amazon indicates that the system takes into account the user's browsing and buying history:

Some embodiments of the disclosure may use the physical and / or emotional characteristics of a user in combination with behavioral targeting criteria (eg, browsing history, number of clicks, purchase history, etc.) and / or contextual targeting criteria (eg, keywords). , page types, placement metadata, etc.) to determine and / or select content that may be relevant to the presentation to a user.

The system would use a "voice processing algorithm" to determine the emotional state of a user. The analysis of the voice would detect "happiness, joy, anger, grief, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, stress or other emotional states" . These determinations would be "based at least in part on an analysis of the pitch, pulses, tone, jitter and / or harmony of a user's voice, determined from the processing of voice data ".

The system would apply labels to each physical or emotional feature. These tags may be "associated or linked to a voice input data file" and "used to determine what content to present to the user".

The emotion detection system would be tailored to each user, determining his "default or normal / basic status" so that he could detect changes indicating that "the emotional state of the person's emotions" would be the same. user is abnormal, "says the patent.

The analysis of Amazon would probably be more accurate when it is tailored to a specific user, but the patent indicates that the technology may also determine the emotional state of "n?" any user ", whether or not he uses this device normally.

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