Amazon Patent Reveals “Voice Sniffer Algorithm” That Could Analyze Conversations
Seemingly oddly timed to the 50th anniversary of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which cemented the specter of creepy artificial intelligence in moviegoers' minds, comes news Amazon's Echo could soon get nosier.
While the speaker currently sparks up when a user calls for Alexa, its A.I. personality, a new patent suggests the next step for the device may be listening in on any conversation -- not just after the "Alexa" command is said by its user.
An algorithm proposed in a pending patent filed by the e-commerce giant in 2017 shows advanced artificial intelligence that would allow an Amazon device to listen to a conversation and analyze it for certain words that are said.
The patent calls the technology a "voice sniffer algorithm."
The algorithm uses positive trigger words like, "prefer" and "bought" or negative trigger words such as, "hate" or "disliked," and then the device can, "capture adjacent audio that can be analyzed" for keywords, gauging interest levels in various products.
The captured data can also, naturally, be transmitted to advertisers, which can pitch its products based on which keywords were "sniffed."
The patent may also allow video cameras on devices to "capture image information to attempt to determine which user is speaking."
However, the patent does say that "a user can have the option of activating or deactivating the sniffing or voice capture processes, for purposes such as privacy and data security."
An Amazon spokesman told ABC News in a statement, "We do not use customers' voice recordings for targeted advertising."
The rep also noted, "Patents take multiple years to receive and do not necessarily reflect current developments to products and services."