Amazon wants to know your feelings, and it’s reportedly developing a new wearable device that will be capable of recognizing your emotions in conjunction with a connected companion app of some sort, likely utilizing the power of its Alexa artificial intelligence software which powers its line of Echo products.
The device which doesn’t seem to yet have a name other than the internal codename of Dylan, would be a wrist-worn wearable device, potentially with a screen interface that users would be able to interact with not too unlike modern fitness trackers and smartwatches.
Amazon is reportedly putting two separate teams together for the development of the device, one of those being the Alexa software team. This makes perfect sense as Alexa is Amazon’s artificial intelligence software that can be found in just about anything Amazon is producing these days, and this device will almost certainly incorporate the developments that Alexa researchers have been working on to help AI recognize emotions in human speech more accurately.
Amazon even lists health and wellness as one of the potential applications that would be practical in regards to the use of the new software capabilities. This is important as the new wearable device that it’s reportedly working on is said to be referred to by Amazon internally as a health and wellness device.
This suggests that the Alexa software team may be (and most likely is) using some of the developments from its research on adversarial training of its AI software in the development of this new wearable, though it’s also likely that when and if this new capability is fleshed out to completion that Amazon will incorporate in more than just this new wearable device.
While the Alexa team handles the software for this new device Amazon has reportedly put Lab126 on the task of handling the hardware. Lab126 is the same department that developed the Echo and Amazon’s Fire Phone.
Not all of the details of the hardware have been mentioned but it’s said to be equipped with two microphones that will be able to use the accompanying software to listen to a user’s voice and pick up on their emotional state.
How this might be useful from a consumer standpoint is vague at the moment, since there isn’t a lot of information about the wearable’s features and capabilities beyond having the smarts to read human emotions. Despite the lack of details on the main purpose of this wearable, if there is one besides picking up on people’s feelings, Amazon could use this product as more of a springboard for the advancements its made on the software side.
That is if the device is ever released as a consumer or commercial product. Whether or not Amazon is currently at a successful stage with the device’s development is unclear but it is said to have been worked on recently with development being ongoing, which reportedly includes a beta testing program.
Creating a device like this could cause concern among some consumers due to it having the ability to pick up on something as personal as someone’s current emotions. Amazon is primarily a retail company, so despite how useful and advanced the technology may be, it would almost certainly have some tie-in to Amazon’s primary business, like recommending products to buy based on the emotions the software picked up on.
Amazon’s diligence in improving its artificial intelligence software seems to know no bounds, as a wearable device that can recognize human emotions is an ambitious undertaking. That said the company has found countless ways to make Alexa more useful to people in everyday life from recommending recipes to managing the control of common household appliances and electronics like lights and thermostats, and it’s entirely possible it could be trying to do the same thing here and actually make this a useful product that consumers would want.