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Amazon has filed a patent for a new technology that would let Alexa analyze user's voice to determine whether they are sick or depressed. The company will then sell products based on consumers' physical or emotional condition.
The patent titled "Voice-based determination of physical and emotional characteristics of users" was issued this week. The company filed for it in March 2017. According to the patent, the smart voice assistant will be able to detect "abnormal" physical or emotional conditions.
"For example, physical conditions such as sore throats and coughs may be determined based at least in part on a voice input from the user, and emotional conditions such as an excited emotional state or a sad emotional state may be determined based at least in part on voice input from a user," the patent says. "A cough or sniffle, or crying, may indicate that the user has a specific physical or emotional abnormality."
It's still unclear what ads will be pushed on the user's emotional state, but someone who is sick might be asked if they need a medicine for a cold.
"A current physical and/or emotional condition of the user may facilitate the ability to provide highly targeted audio content, such as audio advertisements or promotions, to the user," the patent said.
If Alexa manages to determine that the user has a sore throat, it would "communicate with the audio content server(s)" to push the appropriate ad. "For example, certain content, such as content related to cough drops or flu medicine, may be targeted towards users who have sore throats," the patent says.
The voice assistant might then ask, "would you like to order cough drops with 1-hour delivery?" After the user confirms the order, Alexa "may append a message to the audible confirmation, such as well wishes, or 'feel better!'"
This goes without saying that companies patent new technologies all the time, but not all are rolled out to the masses. So there's no certainty that Alexa will incorporate this patented technology.
Apart from analyzing the physical and emotional states of the user, Amazon's patent also says the system would also consider the user's browsing history and purchases.