Amazon may use such software to determine a person's mood and suggest products for that particular situation.
To access a host of cloud-based services, the 100 million users of Amazon's Alexa only have to ask their device once. Now it is developing another voice-activated device which will be able to recognise human emotions.
This will be a gadget wearable on the wrist and is being called a health and wellness product. Bloomberg reported that it would be a collaborative effort between the Alexa voice software team and Lab126, the hardware development group which developed Amazon's Echo smart speaker and Fire phone.
This gadget will be compatible with smartphones through an app. It has embedded microphones connected to software which detects the person's emotions on the basis of his or her voice. People in the know said it could later be developed to use it to advise the wearer how to interact with people more effectively.
The current status of the project is unknown, and it is not confirmed whether the product will ever see the light of day. The teams within Amazon are given a lot of room to experiment with different products and services and some of them will never go public.
For years, a machine that can detect human emotions has been seen in science fiction but the recent advancement of machine learning and voice and image recognition has pushed it towards becoming a real product. Giants like Google, IBM and Microsoft are designing technologies that would help recognise emotions from images, audio and other such data.
These products and software can be used in potential healthcare products or even in target advertising.
This may not sit well in the ongoing debate about privacy wherein people said that by way of these products, companies are holding a lot of personal data with them. Reports came out earlier this year that some of Amazon's employees are listening to conversations recorded with Alexa.
A patent was filed in 2017 in the US which describes software which listens to the audio and tries to determine its feeling, among joy, sorrow, disgust, boredom, stress or other such issues. Amazon may use such software to determine a person's mood and suggest products for that particular situation.
Amazon won another patent later wherein a software is able to distinguish a person's speech from background noises.The US-based company is facing tough competition from Google and Apple in the software space, therefore, it is trying to be innovative to get an edge. Amazon is also reportedly working on wireless earbuds to fight Apple's AirPods.