Is Alexa Taking Over?

The Lempert Report
December 13, 2018

A few weeks ago Amazon was issued a patent for a new Alexa technology that would enable the device to detect our physical, emotional and behavioral states

The example given is that if Alexa detects a cough or sniffles when a user makes a voice request, the assistant might respond by asking if the user wants to order lozenges. Alexa would also be able to use consumers' demographic and behavioral information such as age, location, accents, and past search and purchase behavior to help inform those suggestions.

Now before you get creeped out, the commercial side of this technology is everything a brand could want. But for the user? Maybe not so much. As it is, many people are already skittish about the privacy issues of voice assistants. I have little doubt that if this technology becomes a reality – there would have to be a kill switch that a user could decide to turn this aspect of the technology off.

Business Insider gives us two scenarios to consider:

  • It could expose consumers to relevant skills that they might not have used otherwise. For instance, if Alexa detects that a user is suffering from anxiety through their tone of voice, the voice assistant could suggest a stress relief skill that the user was unaware of. 
  • It could enable Alexa to target users with brands' relevant products and information. Alexa would be able to intuitively surface specific products based on consumers' physical or emotional states at that exact moment, which could boost voice purchases. And although Amazon doesn't allow ads on its voice platform yet, the technology enables the potential to run targeted ads and promotions based on users' emotional and physical states, enabling businesses to reach users when their products or services are most relevant. 

So, the answer is yes. Alexa IS taking over.