It’s happening. A recent article in Time Magazine states that Amazon is developing an advanced voice-recognition feature for Alexa that would be able to distinguish individual users’ voices. Similar to current smart phone security features that use a finger print, the new Alexa feature would match a person based on their “voice print.” The primary account holder can then set which commands each user can access based on their voice, like the ability to make a credit card purchase.
This Voice ID feature could give Amazon a competitive edge over its rival, Google Home. While the Google Assistant on the Pixel phone can tell the difference between the voice of the phone owner and other people when they say “OK Google,” the Home has no such capability at the moment. Just look at what happened during the Super Bowl.
A Better Voice UX for Multi-user Devices
Voice ID will also make switching between accounts on Alexa more seamless. This is a current frustration among users as Alexa-enabled devices are commonly used by more than one person in a household. Alexa households with more than two users make up 80% of the market according to an Experian study.
Being a household device has also created some new problems for Amazon Alexa that Voice ID could help solve. One of these being unauthorized credit card purchases, like that of Megan Neitzel, whose daughter ordered a doll house through their Echo device on Amazon without her knowledge. It could also increase the overall use of the devices, as many people are wary of linking their credit cards or personal emails with Alexa because others might be able to access that data.
Many of the voice-industry leaders we interviewed predicted that this kind of voice-recognition feature would become available in 2017 for either Amazon Alexa or Google Home. If these reports are true, they were right on target.