Amazon reportedly developing a wearable that recognizes human emotions

Ruben Fields
May 24, 2019

The company has begun distributing Echo Auto, a dashboard-mounted speaker and microphone array created to pair with a smartphone, and says it received 1 million pre-orders.

The wrist-worn gadget, code-named "Dylan", will feature microphones paired with software that can detect a person's mental state based on their voice alone. Eventually, the device may even advise users on "how to interact more effectively with others".

The project is similar to a patent filing which Amazon made in 2017 for a system where voice software uses analysis of vocal patterns to determine how a user is feeling, discerning among "joy, anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, stress, or other emotional states". The virtual assistant realizes from the sniffles that she has a cold, and ask the woman if she would like a recipe for chicken soup. Amazon gives teams wide latitude to experiment with products, some of which will never come to market. This patent is for a system that will be able to differentiate between the device wearer's voice and background noise.

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As with any Lab126 project, there's no telling whether or not the Dylan wearable will ever actually see the light of day. A beta test is in progress, although it is unknown whether the software that detects emotions is being tested, the pre-production hardware, or both. Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Amazon has a team listening to and annotating audio clips captured by the company's Echo line of voice-activated speakers. Amazon is working on the development of the device with Lab126, a research and development, and computer hardware company owned by Amazon. Maybe Amazon will be the ones to do it. Promising to undercut Apple's AirPods on price, and best it on sound quality, the accessory should support Alexa.

Not only is recording everything you say a slight worry, but as Amazon's primary business is retail, there is no doubt they would use the data it collects for targeted advertising. This is a smart speaker for a vehicle that attaches to the dashboard. Priced at $49.99, Amazon is now offering it for 50% off at its website.

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