Amazon patents new Alexa skill to detect when user is sick

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Amazon has filed a patent for its virtual voice assistant, Alexa, aimed at detecting whether a user is sick and selling medicine in response, the UK's Daily Telegraph reports.

The patent describes software used in Alexa to analyze speech and identify signs of illness. For example, Alexa could detect when a user is coughing or sniffling while talking to the device. The device would then offer cold remedies — such as a recipe for chicken noodle soup — or offer to order cough drops.

Amazon’s patent suggests that advertisements for cold-related products could be automatically played to people who sound like they have a sickness, according to the report.

The filing also covers a skill to track emotions using Alexa. The virtual assistant would be able to detect boredom or fatigue in the user's voice and make suggestions of things to do. A music artist could advertise a new album based on moods identified by Alexa.

Amazon’s patent filing doesn't necessarily mean the company is working on the new features, the Daily Telegraph notes. But Amazon has been making moves into healthcare, including its June acquisition of online pharmacy service PillPack.

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