In its latest effort to be involved in every aspect of our lives, Amazon is reportedly working on a new voice-activated wearable device that is capable of recognizing human emotions. According to Bloomberg, the wearable will be worn on the wrist, like a watch, and is described as a health and wellness product in internal documents. Lab126, the team behind the Echo and Fire Phone, is working on the device alongside the Alexa voice team.
As Bloomberg’s report explains, Amazon’s wearable works in conjunction with a smartphone app. Codenamed Dylan, it uses microphones and software in order to “discern the wearer’s emotional state from the sound of his or her voice.” Eventually, the device may even advise users on “how to interact more effectively with others.”
As with any Lab126 project, there’s no telling whether or not the Dylan wearable will ever actually see the light of day. Although Bloomberg was able to determine that work on the device is ongoing, there’s no indication on how far along it is, or if Amazon is planning to formally announce the device any time soon. A source did reveal that a beta testing program is underway, but wouldn’t say if the testing involved the software, the hardware, or both.
A patent filed in 2017 and granted last year shows that Amazon is indeed serious about implementing the detection of human emotions within its voice-activated devices. The patent alludes to Alexa being able to pick up on “happiness, joy, anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, stress, or other emotional states.”
While not all of Lab126’s experiments have been commercial triumphs (RIP, Fire Phone), the Echo smart speaker has absolutely dominated the field and has made Alexa a household presence in millions of homes around the world. The emotion-detecting wearable seems like more of a longshot than a speaker than talks back, but if it helps to ingrain Amazon even deeper into daily life, you’d better believe Amazon will take that shot.