Amazon May Let Echo and Other Alexa-Powered Devices Record Users Even Before Wake Word, Patent Hints

Currently, Alexa-enabled devices do not understand commands when the wake word is spoken in the middle or end of the sentence.

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Amazon May Let Echo and Other Alexa-Powered Devices Record Users Even Before Wake Word, Patent Hints
Highlights
  • Patent tips a way Amazon may expand capabilities of Alexa
  • Currently, Alexa can't process commands with wake words in between
  • If implemented, Alexa may be able to understand more natural phrasing

A newly-published patent application from Amazon shows that the e-commerce giant is planning to let Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices to record what is said even before a wake word, like "Alexa".

Currently, Alexa-enabled devices do not understand commands when the wake word is spoken in the middle or end of the sentence.

With this patent, the company clearly seems to be looking for ways to expand the capabilities of its voice recognition technology, BuzzFeed News reported on Friday.

If implemented, the feature could let devices respond on commands with the wake word in the middle or at the end of the command.

"While such phrasings may be natural for a user, current speech processing systems are not configured to handle commands that are not preceded by a wake word. Offered is a system to correct this problem," as per Kurt Wesley Piersol and Gabriel Beddingfield, who developed the patent.

According to the patent application, after a wake word is detected, Alexa may "look backwards" to determine if the command came before the wake word, and use pauses in speech to identify the beginning of the command.

However, if approved, this technology could arise several security concerns among users.

According to an Amazon spokesperson, the company files several patents that are not ultimately implemented into consumer-facing products.

"The technology in this patent is not in use, and referring to the potential use of patents is highly speculative," the report quoted the spokesperson as saying.

The patent revelation comes just weeks after some US Senators and a group of 19 consumers and public health advocates accused Amazon of recording and saving conversations that take place around its smart speakers, urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the case.

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