A new Amazon patent reveals Alexa could become emotionally intelligent

Amazon was issued a patent for new technology last week that would enable Alexa to detect users’ physical, emotional, and behavioural states. The technology would allow Alexa to recognize audible cues, such as a cough or a tone of voice, to identify how a user is feeling, mentally or physically, and provide responses based on that information.

For instance, if Alexa detects a cough or sniffles when a user makes a voice request, the assistant might respond by asking if the user wants to order lozenges. Alexa would also be able to use consumers’ demographic and behavioural information such as age, location, accents, and past search and purchase behaviour to help inform those suggestions.

Alexa’s potential ability to constantly monitor its users and respond in real time would pave the way for brands to interact with consumers in a flexible manner, which could help boost brand awareness and drive voice purchases. Here’s how:

– It could expose consumers to relevant skills that they might not have used otherwise. For instance, if Alexa detects that a user is suffering from anxiety through their tone of voice, the voice assistant could suggest a stress relief skill that the user was unaware of.

– It could enable Alexa to target users with brands’ relevant products and information. Alexa would be able to intuitively surface specific products based on consumers’ physical or emotional states at that exact moment, which could boost voice purchases. And although Amazon doesn’t allow ads on its voice platform yet, the technology enables the potential to run targeted ads and promotions based on users’ emotional and physical states, enabling businesses to reach users when their products or services are most relevant.

Alexa’s capability to detect cues from voice data could result in an improved user experience, if consumers are interested. Alexa’s proactive suggestions would lend to a highly personalized experience by catering to users’ real-time emotional and physical needs.

It would also lead to more natural conversations with Alexa, as the voice assistant can understand and ask relevant follow-up questions, increasing the back-and-forth nature of the voice experience.

However, given the privacy concerns surrounding other big tech companies, like Facebook, many consumers might be uncomfortable with Amazon automatically collecting deeply personal information, which could impact the popularity of this feature if it’s ever rolled out.

Source: businessinsider.com; 17 Oct 2018

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