Privacy advocates are sure to be upset by this, although Amazon writes in the filing that all of the captured dialogue does not need to be sent through Amazon’s servers “thus addressing privacy concerns associated with an ‘always-on’ speech processing system.” Amazon also says that it might need to record only 10 to 30 seconds of speech at a time to mollify those concerned about privacy issues.
Amazon says it might not ever implement the technology in the patent
The patent says that once the wakeword is said, it looks for the most recent pause in the dialogue; everything said after that pause up to the wakeword is sent to an Amazon server for processing. But why even bother filing this patent? Because, as the authors of the patent application point out, current systems used to process speech are designed to ignore everything until the wakeword is spoken. The technology used in the patent will allow users to phrase requests for Alexa in a more natural way. Amazon says that it has not already implemented the technology listed in the patent (try it yourself on an Echo device) and may never implement the changes as laid out in the application.
Alexa, of course, isn’t the only personal assistant that allows users to get help by using a wakeword. The Google Assistant, in fact, has two (‘OK, Google’ and ‘Hey Google’) and Siri has its ‘Hey Siri’ wakeword. Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri are considered the top three virtual helpers with Google Assistant arguably on top, followed by Alexa and then Siri.