Amazon’s Patent Enables Alexa to Detect Emotions

By Gavin Hanson, 10-12-18, at The Daily Caller: Inc., Senior Vice President David Limp shows new voice-controlled Echo and Echo Plus devices announced at an event in the retailer’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington, U.S., September, 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jeffrey Dastin

A new Amazon patent will allow Alexa to detect emotions like “joy, anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, stress, and other emotional states” and sickness in users.

“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,” Amazon’s patent says.

The patent entitled “Voice-based determination of physical and emotional characteristics of users,” was issued Tuesday after Amazon applied in March 2017. It describes a smart device analyzing a user’s speech patterns upon setting up the device and recognizing comparatively “abnormal” emotions or physical states.

It is designed to recognize and adapt to users’ accents and read through laughs or cries to accurately respond to commands. Being able to recognize commands delivered in an accent would allow Alexa to tailor suggestions to the user’s geographic origin or cultural attitudes. The patent gives an example of a Chinese-accented user asking for a news overview and being suggested a Chinese language news subscription for $50.

Enhancing speech recognition isn’t the limit of the vocal tonality recognition software that Amazon patented. “Abnormal emotional states” and illness can be monetized as well as a user’s cultural heritage.

The patent would allow an Alexa to recognize “sore throat, cold, thyroid issues, sleepiness, and other health conditions.”

If a user is speaking in a way that Amazon’s data network would classify as a sore throat, the patent indicates that an Alexa would suggest “by the way, I hear you have a sore throat, are you interested in buying cough medicine or learning more?” without a user even mentioning their ailment.

Amazon’s patent does not describe a specific example of what an Alexa would offer to a sad or sorrowful user, but would make each of these emotions its own distinct category that commands would be sorted into. After a user’s input is categorized, the smart speaker can respond with ads or suggestions based on those categorizations.

Amazon may or may not add this feature to Alexa or other virtual assistants in the future.

Amazon did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment in time for publication.


First, between radio, TV, the internet and my cell phone I get plenty of unwanted ads and offers, so I sure don’t want another device in my home suggesting things I should buy.

Second, a device that interprets my mood or health is invasive and Big Brotherish, but naturally they offer it in a nice way so it appeals to people as useful and helpful.

Lastly, who’s monitoring it on the other end and for what purpose?  If I sound depressed, does the ATF come for my guns?

If Alexa really wanted to help me, she’d go get that cough syrup for me, make some chicken noodle soup, and do a load of laundry while I’m sick.


Categories: General

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11 replies

  1. Y’know, as a second-generation intel guy, I’ll never understand how people can willingly, even happily, bug their own homes.


    • Because they believe the hype, Brian, and never question things.

      Another item I meant to point out is that Amazon says they may or may not add this feature to Alexas produced in the future. It’s possible people could buy one that detects emotions without knowing it.


    • I’m still trying to figure out how to get it off my phone and tablet.


      • I’m not so sure you can, VM, at least I haven’t found a way. Maybe you could disable it, but for the most part you just have to ignore it.


  2. Just what I need: a machine that doesn’t have the good sense to keep its mouth shut when I’m in a bad mood.


  3. I will not have something in my house that listens to me 24/7. (not even my wife does that). Next thing will be “her” making suggestions for voting, or calling the cops is I say “damn, I wish someone would take care of that damn (politician name)”


    • Ditto that, VM. We say a lot of things that aren’t meant to be taken literally and we don’t want a machine translating it wrong for us. Technology is moving in directions that are leaving out the human factor, like in driverless cars, and now this new invention is inserting a human factor where it’s not wanted or needed. We’d all be better off if they’d invest in doing something more worthwhile, like curing cancer or building a wall on the border.


  4. LOL! Kathy! That’s the better function of that device! Do the chores and wait on me hand and foot!!!

    Instead this device spies on you. Can you imagine the organizations who might want all that information on you?

    On the depression part, I can imagine all the drug ads that would come through Alexa. “Do you feel a little down today? Might I suggest LevitateMyMood? You can get a prescription from your doctor!

    I find Alexa disgusting. I wouldn’t have one in my house, LET ALONE PAY FOR ONE!!!


    • I wouldn’t have one in my house either, tannngl. Maybe I’m overly protective, but there’s already too many ways to access our information, I’m sure not going to set them up with another source that wants analyze my emotions.

      Another one is those companies like Life Lock that want to protect your information from hackers, etc. They may be well-intentioned, but the first thing you have to do is give them all your information. Say what? No thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

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