Nobody likes to be misunderstood, especially by a machine. We’ve all become pointlessly exasperated with the virtual assistants that power our devices when they just can’t seem to grasp what we’re saying.
Amazon’s Alexa may never be able to interpret your commands with perfect accuracy but she could become more empathetic. Amazon is reportedly teaching Alexa — the AI personality that powers the Echo smart speaker and other devices — to pick up on emotional cues.
A source, identified by the MIT Technology Review as “familiar with the Echo project,” says Amazon’s research and development team is exploring emotion recognition technology. The idea is to improve Alexa’s ability to recognize a user’s intent based on the emotional register of his or her voice.
Amazon continues to build out Alexa’s capabilities as competition in the AI assistant space heats up. Google’s Echo competitor, Google Home, is slated for release this fall and Apple opened up Siri to third-party developers earlier this week.
If Amazon’s Alexa is able to interpret emotional cues, it could help improve her ability to respond to ambiguous requests. At the very least, she could apologize when she knows she’s getting on your nerves.
“It is super-vital for the conversation to be magical,” the Echo source told MIT Technology Review.