The music streaming service filed for the patent in 2018, and it was approved on the 12th of January 2021. It will allow the company to use recordings of speech and background noise to curate music suggestions to users. The technology seems fairly sophisticated, taking “intonation, stress, rhythm, and the likes of units of speech” to gauge a user’s mood. Furthermore, it will be able to identify metadata points such as “age, gender, or accent” and whether a person is alone or in company.
Spotify providing personalised media recommendations to users is not wholly new, but this would see the level of personalisation considerably ramped up. Rather than relying on information that a user has had to physically input, this would be a more automated approach. It even goes as far as picking up environmental information like “sounds from vehicles on a street, other people talking, birds chirping, printers printing, and so on” to offer suggestions.
Depending on how you view Spotify being able to suggest music like this, it could be a wonderfully exciting new feature or an unnerving invasion of privacy. We are all well aware that the technology that makes our lives vastly more convenient is also constantly tracking and listening to us. But, the thought of it being able to make decisions based on whether we are alone feels a bit full on. With lockdowns and isolation still prevalent, we can expect Lonely by Akon to pop up as a suggestion infinitely more frequently than we’d like it to.
Although this sounds a touch close to dystopian, Spotify has reassured that it will not utilise the technology without considering the ethical implications. You can check out their paper on the matter, where they explain, “we disavow any future research or applications that violate ethical standards of data usage and are not transparent about privacy to its users”.
At Synchedin we have our own curated media for you to tap into – though we’ve gone down a more old-fashioned route. No mind reading, all-hearing music robots here. Check out the Collections page to discover categorised music and sound effects ideal for any content project!