Amazon Patents Tech for Alexa to Detect Coughs, ColdsMarie Donlon | October 16, 2018
According to a recently filed patent, Amazon is planning to enable its AI assistant Alexa to determine whether or not a user is sick based on voice changes.
The patent, which was filed earlier this year under the title "Voice-based determination of physical and emotional characteristics of users," was made public earlier this month and will rely on the user’s tone of voice and sounds such as sniffling or coughing to determine whether the user is unwell, prompting Alexa to recommend remedies such as chicken soup or cough medicine.
According to the patent, "the voice interaction device may determine audio content for presentation based at least in part on the determined abnormal physical or emotional condition. For example, the user may be determined to have a sore throat based at least in part on voice processing of the voice data. Accordingly, the abnormal physical condition for the user may be a sore throat. The voice interaction device and/or the voice processing server(s) may communicate with the audio content server(s) to select content for presentation to the user based at least in part on the sore throat. For example, certain content, such as content related to cough drops or flu medicine, may be targeted towards users who have sore throats."
In addition to this illness-detecting feature, Amazon also envisions that Alexa will soon remedy user boredom by suggesting activities such as going to the movies or buying a new album.
If the patent becomes reality, Amazon can expect critics of the scheme to argue that the feature is invasive while proponents will likely see the value in this customized technology.