A report from Time suggests that Amazon is developing a feature to make its Alexa even a better listener – so good that eventually, Alexa will be able to distinguish between different voice patterns. This ability could come in very handy in a number of ways for both Amazon and the Alexa user. By being able to tell who is speaking to it, Alexa can have a set of rules to follow, making authorizing a purchase or ordering a mature movie a seamless operation without having to speak out a code to let Alexa know you are the authorized user. Certain users would have specific accesses to areas of Amazon and credit card privileges, as an example.
This Amazon Voice ID is a project they have been working on since 2015 as part of the future development of Alexa’s capabilities. One of the sources claims that Amazon has already completed the work, but has not been implemented. Possibly further testing needs to be done, but with today’s technology, it should not be difficult to incorporate this feature. Voices, like fingerprints, all have their unique characteristics that can easily be identified by the computer software. It is possible that Amazon’s legal team is now at work to make sure that all privacy details are covered. They do not want to go through another round with the courts concerning the privacy a customer can expect when purchasing and using Alexa. In a recent case involving murder, the police wanted Amazon to hand over possible recordings of Alex during the commission of a crime. Amazon believes the first amendment rules should apply to these recordings.
The idea of Amazon Voice ID could certainly make choosing between Echo and Google Home a lot tougher. Google Home can be tied in with Google Assistant, which can distinguish between different people’s voices when they say “OK Google” to wake up the system, but right now that feature is not available on the Google Home speaker. Being able to recognize different voices would be a real coup for Amazon’s Alexa. Most people have their own Amazon account, and those individuals living under the same roof could actually benefit from Alexa being able to distinguish the speakers from one another. Alexa could immediately access the speaker’s account and know their shipping address and what they are authorized to purchase and how they will pay for the item. It could be a real time saver for the users, making Alex seem even more ‘human.’