Amazon’s Alexa could soon suggest products to users based on whether they sound sick or emotionally distressed.
A patent for the technology, entitled “Voice-based determination of physical and emotional characteristics of users,” was issued to the company Tuesday after be filed in March of last year.
The skill would enable Alexa to analyze a user’s voice in an attempt to detect any irregularities.
“A cough or sniffle, or crying, may indicate that the user has a specific physical or emotional abnormality,” the patent states.
Alexa would then serve users with “highly targeted” advertisements related to the supposed ailment.
“A current physical and/or emotional condition of the user may facilitate the ability to provide highly targeted audio content, such as audio advertisements or promotions, to the user,” the patent adds.
Users believed to have sore throats, for example, could suddenly hear “content related to cough drops or flu medicine.”
A proposed audible message from Alexa includes asking the user if they would prefer “to order cough drops with 1 hour delivery.”
Once purchased, the recipient could even be given “well wishes” and told to “feel better” by Alexa.
Aside from looking for physical and emotional distress, Alexa, based in part on a user’s “pitch, pulse, voicing, jittering, and/or harmonicity,” would also look for signs of “happiness, joy, anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, stress, or other emotional states.”
A musician, another example states, “may want to target an audio ad for his new album to users with ‘boredom’ and ‘sleepy’ conditions.”
As noted by Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin, while many privacy questions surround the proposed feature, it remains to be seen as to whether it will be included anytime soon in Alexa.
“Companies get patents all the time for technologies that never make it to market, so there is no guarantee this capability will be implemented in future versions of Alexa,” Brodkin writes.