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Alexa may get smarter with the ability to distinguish among different voices

Amazon Echo Alexa
Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

You know her name, so it only seems fair that Alexa begins to learn yours as well. Soon, according to sources who spoke to Time, she may do just that. According to Time’s report, Amazon is working on a feature that would allow its popular artificial intelligence-based voice assistant to differentiate among users based on their voices. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on these claims.

If this alleged feature turns out to be a real one, Alexa could become the first voice assistant to recognize individual voices. Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Assistant are all capable of answering questions and responding to various commands, but none of them are able to determine who they are speaking with. This could be important — for example, if you want to ensure that you’re the only one authorizing credit card purchases with Alexa, you could set the assistant to only obey your commands to make a purchase.

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According to Time, Amazon has been working on this capability for a number of years — “since at least the summer of 2015.” Internally, the team calls the feature Voice ID, and it has reportedly been on the Alexa roadmap since last summer, but no release date (or real update) has been provided. That said, Time reports Alexa can recognize voices already, but the remaining challenge is adding this new feature to Echo products.

Of course, recent legal issues involving Alexa and a murder case may make Amazon a bit warier about introducing voice-recognition technology to the public, especially when privacy concerns seem to be at their peak. But all the same, having this kind of functionality could help Alexa further establish its dominance in the smart home, Internet of Things space. Already, the assistant supports 10,000 third-party skills. With voice recognition, it could offer customers an even more personalized experience, playing music or movies tailored to one family member’s taste, or offering up recipes another member might enjoy.

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