Amazon may start listening to EVERYTHING you say
Amazon has filed a patent application for technology allowing devices like Alexa to work before using a wake word
It comes as the company wants to expand the capabilities of its voice recognition technology
The company assures us that privacy will not be breached with the new patent if it is implemented
Who needs to wait for the latest season of ‘Black Mirror’ when we’re living in a technological dystopia anyway? Amazon’s voice recognition devices like the ‘Echo’ and ‘Alexa’ may start listening to everything we say.
Amazon’s application with the US Patent and Trademark Office describes tech that would allow devices like the ‘Echo’ to work without the use of a wake word – those are things like “Alexa, wake up”.
It comes as Amazon reveals its ambition to expand what is possible with voice recognition tech, and the company wants to make the whole experience more ‘human’.
The idea behind the tech is to allow the devices to work if the wake word is said at any point in a sentence, not just the start. That means it’ll go from “Alexa, play some music”, to something like “Play some music Alexa”.
The patent explains that after the wake word is detected, Alexa may “look backwards” to see if the command has been said in a sentence. At this point, your audio goes to Amazon servers for full processing on if a command has been said.
This process, the patent application states, is designed so that all captured speech doesn’t need to be sent to Amazon, “thus addressing privacy concerns associated with an ‘always-on’ speech processing system.” Additionally, the device may be configured to store only 10 to 30 seconds of audio at a time “to avoid capturing too much speech and causing privacy concerns.”
Still, it would be impossible to say that this new tech would offer more privacy than before, it still involves the devices listening to our conversations more than it has ever done. In the past, there have been reports of Amazon devices accidentally picking up false wake words, it is therefore a possibility that the new tech could accidentally be listening in when you don’t want it to.
There’s no indication whether you can turn off this pre-wake word recording setting at the moment, nor is it confirmed if it’s going to be implemented in our devices for sure.