Amazon is reportedly working on a health and wellness device that is worn on the wrist and can read human emotions, according to a Bloomberg report that referenced internal documents and a person familiar with the effort.
The project brings together the Alexa software team as well as Lab126, the hardware group behind the Echo smart speaker and other hardware products. The device, which is meant to figure out how a user is feeling based on how they talk, is called Dylan internally and is in beta testing. It isn’t known if the device will ever become commercially available.
Amazon declined to comment on the project.
In a patent from 2017, Amazon described a capability for Alexa that would allow the assistant to detect both emotional states and signs of illness. The company specifically mentioned emotions like “joy, anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom [and] stress.” Amazon could one day use the feature for targeted advertisements or to suggest medicine if you have a cold.
Amazon’s device ambitions haven’t always led to commercial hits, but the success of Alexa has proven capable of powering smart speaker sales.
There are other ways that more emotional devices could be transformative in healthcare, where robots and digital assistants are seen as one way to help ease the burden of an aging population. Already, Alexa has gained a popular presence in senior care homes. Other tech giants including Google and Microsoft also have projects aimed at detecting users’ emotions with software.