Amazon is reportedly working on a new feature for its Alexa voice assistant that would allow for individual voice recognition, according to a report from Time. In other words, your Echo would theoretically be able to tell voices apart and figure out who is actually talking to it.
According to Time, the feature is internally known as “Voice ID” and has been in development since summer 2015. The report claims that Voice ID would allow certain commands to be locked to a specific voice — for example, only allowing the account holder to purchase things off Amazon (something that’s certainly been an issue in the past). Alexa actually already supports multiple user profiles and PIN verification for purchases, but automating the process through voice recognition would certainly make it easier to take advantage of those features. (The current system requires users to manually change accounts and input passwords.)
Obviously, the voice recognition feature would bring a whole new slew of privacy concerns to Alexa, which is already embroiled in legal controversy regarding user data. One of Time’s sources claims that the feature is actually already finished from a technical perspective and that Amazon is simply trying to figure out a way to roll it out to Alexa users without compromising privacy.
Whether or not that’s actually the case, Voice ID is certainly an interesting idea that would neatly solve one of the main issues with owning an Echo — assuming it exists and reliably works, that is. We’ll have more on Amazon’s expansion of Alexa’s voice recognition abilities if and when we hear more.