credits: the verge

Bloomberg new report manages to stands out, in a week of eyebrow-raising headlines surrounding the US-China trade spat. According to this report, Amazon is said to be working on a wrist-worn, voice-activated device that’s supposed to be able to read human emotions. This would be a rather novel health gadget instead of from one of the world’s biggest tech companies we’re more used to seeing in tenuous crowdfunding campaigns.

The internal Amazon documents are reviewed by Bloomberg and they have also spoken to a source. According to the reports, Alexa voice software team and Amazon’s Lab 126 hardware division are collaborating for the development of this wearable.

The device, working in sync with a smartphone app, is said to have microphones that can “discern the wearer’s emotional state from the sound of his or her voice.” In a mildly dystopian twist, Bloomberg adds that “eventually the technology could be able to advise the wearer how to interact more effectively with others.”

Last year, according to the reports, Lab 126 which is already responsible for the Kindle, the Fire Phone, and the Echo speaker that first introduced Alexa to the world, is also developing a home robot. Right now, the unifying thread to all of Amazon’s hardware efforts is to build out an ecosystem of Alexa-capable devices, with the rumored robot making Alexa more mobile and the alleged emotion-sensing wearable giving the voice assistant access to a whole new dimension of user awareness.  According to the documents and the person, Code-named Dylan, work on the project was ongoing recently, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal matter. This person said, a beta testing program is underway, though it’s unclear whether the trial includes prototype hardware, the emotion-detecting software or both. But Amazon declined to comment.

The documents also shows that eventually the technology could be able to advise the wearer how to interact more effectively with others.

There are a number of measurable biomarkers that can suggest states like agitation, so the notion of a gadget that can sense emotions isn’t too far-fetched. It has long been a staple of science fiction, from stories by Isaac Asimov to Star Trek’s android Data, the notion of building machines that can understand human emotions. This concept of Amid advances in machine learning and voice and image recognition, has recently marched toward reality. Amazon has also discussed publicly its desire to build a more lifelike voice assistant.

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However, Research into all the information contained in the way people speak also strengthen the Amazon’s case for an emotionally sensitive device. It still seems like a hugely ambitious undertaking, to achieve an accurate, or at least generally reliable, picture of a person’s emotional state.

Because of how hard it is to do, this is definitely one of those things that hasn’t yet been done. Th conclusion of the report says that it’s not immediately obvious how far along Amazon’s project is or whether it’ll result in any sort of commercial product. So, for now we should probably keep our emotions in check .

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