Later today, Amazon will announce a slate of new Alexa-powered devices. According to CNET, the company is expected to launch a series of products, including earbuds, home robots, health trackers, and an updated high-end Echo.
But Amazon is competing for more than your wallet; the Jeff Bezos-led firm is quietly waging a war for your brain.
Consider the health-tracking product. The device, which is being developed by Amazon in collaboration with Lab126, will reportedly be able to detect the emotional state of the wearer.
Dylan, the product’s code name, will have sensors that analyze the user’s vocal patterns and determine their current state of mind. According to the patent, the product will be able to identify when its wearer is sad, jovial, stressed, or disgusted, among other emotional states.
The new product comes at a time when technology companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Google are competing to capture – and monetize – user attention.
Just yesterday, CCN reported that Facebook had acquired CTRL Labs for just under $1 billion. The product will join Facebook’s Reality Labs, which includes the company’s augmented reality projects. As with everything Facebook does, the company will likely use the neural data to improve the ads that the company delivers.
What else companies like Facebook and Amazon might do with that data concerns privacy advocates.
Data is at the core of these innovations. Amazon and other companies developing these “brain-hacking” products aim to capture a vast amount of data from users and use it in product development. The biggest question is whether users will allow these technology leviathans to have all this data.
In August, Apple apologized for letting contractors listen to user conversations. In the apology, the company said that the listening was intended to make Siri better. Of course, not everyone bought that.
In April, Amazon was criticized for employing thousands of people to listen to conversations. When caught, the company said that it took “security and privacy of our customers seriously.”
Nor has Google been immune to the temptation to listen to its users.
Amazon will likely launch Dylan as lawmakers in the United States and Europe are deliberating on ways to help protect customer data.
Ahead of this week’s hearings on Capitol Hill, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) opined on the need for more data protection laws.
“There is a lot of concern about the competitiveness and the health of the virtual space,” Blackburn said. “It is important to exercise some preemptions so you…have a basic privacy standard…[that makes certain] that this virtual space is competitive.”
This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.