Amazon files patent to ‘listen to all or any conversations in a room’

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional
3 min read

The voice assistant could eventually pay attention to all conversations in an area, identify speakers, and also interrupt them with sponsored suggestions

During the next World War, a campaign warned private citizens against speaking too loosely in public areas about matters of national interest. In the end (therefore the campaign explained) you can never be certain of who was simply eavesdropping.


In modern times, the rise of ‘listening robots’ has been precipitous, including Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Echo device, and Apple’s Siri-activate HomePod.

Triggered by ‘call names’ (for instance, Siri), they provide useful hands-free assistance on from checking the elements and travel, to selecting music from the personal playlist.

In the Case of Alexa, things are set to take what many would look at a sinister development by adopting an even more ‘hands-on’ attitude

A recent Amazon patent suggests the voice assistant could eventually pay attention to all conversations in an area, identify speakers, and also interrupt them with sponsored suggestions and recommended targeted advertising to get services and products that Alexa believes would somehow be linked to the ongoing dialogue.

Caution: enter Echo chamber with care

‘Sniffer’ algorithms will process and try to identify trigger words a throughout a conversation which implies a person’s potential degree of interest. For every identified potential trigger word, these devices will capture adjacent audio which can be analyzed on these devices or remotely, to try and determine a number of keywords connected with that trigger word.

Currently, the voice assistant monitors ambient conversations.  However, you need to invite it to become listed on conversations by calling out its trigger word, “Alexa”.

According to the brand new patent, these devices is defined to become a lot more proactive, butting into conversations since it feels fit.  Even perhaps eventually machine learning who’s speaking along with their individual preferences, – so creating a profile of this person and delivering appropriately targeted adverts with products that Amazon thinks the individual would want (given the conversation being held).

According to the patent:

“The identified keywords could be stored and/or transmitted to a proper location accessible to advertisers or content providers who is able to utilize the keywords to try and select or customize content that’s likely highly relevant to an individual.”

Given the recent shaming surrounding Facebook and data privacy, the potential innovation once more highlights Silicon Valley’s propensity to seamlessly and covertly integrate into people’s everyday private lives.

The Echo selection of smart speakers, which are powered by va Alexa, usually do not currently use customers’ voice recordings to promote.

However, interestingly enough, it isn’t unusual for Amazon Alexa’s voice recordings to be reused.


An Amazon Echo device was found in a murder case in america, where Arkansas man, James Bates, was charged with first-degree murder, partially using evidence gathered by his Echo home assistant.

The judge eventually dismissed the charges.

Amazon is adamant that it’s focused on user privacy.  (In the same way Facebook along with other Silicon Valley colossus corporations have assured during the past).

Facebook was recently investigated following rumours that microphones included in devices could possibly be exploited to target users with ads.

The social network’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, stalwartly denied the allegations throughout a committee appearance where he was questioned by members of the united states Congress.

Whenever Facebook or Amazon draws on existing data in regards to a person (usually by way of a decade of conversations with friends, or simply shopping history) they are able to use it to provide advertising and recommendations that often appear uncannily accurate.  But to take action, they don’t have to surreptitiously listen directly into conversations:  They curently have ample information regarding most of us – simply from the info we voluntarily upload with their sites.

In the case of the brand new patent for Amazon’s Echo devices, a spokesperson said:

“We take privacy seriously and also have built multiple layers of privacy into our Echo devices…Like many companies, we file several forward-looking patent applications that explore the entire likelihood of new technology.”

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional

Leave a Comment