Amazon is reportedly developing a wearable device that is activated by voice to recognize human emotions. The effort is a collaboration between the Alexa voice software team and Lab126, which is a group behind the Echo smart speaker as well as Amazon’s Fire phone, Bloomberg reported.
The device, which works with a mobile app, is said to have microphones that can use a wearer’s voice to detect his or her emotional state. The technology could potentially direct users on how to better interact with others. However, the report noted that the project status is not known, and it is uncertain whether it “will ever become a commercial device.” It also pointed out that the company gives wide latitude to teams to experiment with products, some of which never go to market.
The project is reportedly codenamed “Dylan,” with ongoing work toward a program for beta testing. It is not known whether the test encompasses software that detects emotion, the prototype hardware or both concepts.
While the creation of machines that can discern emotions has been part of science fiction for a long time, the concept is moving closer to fruition with innovations in voice, image recognition and machine learning.
In other recent voice-activated device news, it was reported earlier this month that Alexa has emerged as the most-used voice assistant on the market. The technology is reportedly found in more than 60,000 smart home devices, which marks a jump from only 12,000 devices a year earlier. According to reports, Alexa was in 20,000 smart home devices in September, highlighting a fast trajectory for the digital personal assistant.
It was also noted that the number of products that support Alexa has grown 200 percent in the past three quarters. As of October of last year, Google Assistant functioned in roughly 10,000 devices from over 1,000 companies. Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices and services, told The Verge in January that more than 100 million Alexa-integrated devices had been sold so far – and that figure is said to trump the number of phones with Google Assistant or Siri preinstalled.