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Spotify logo. Photo Illustration: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The music-streaming company Spotify was granted a patent for technology that aims to interpret users’ speech and background noise to better curate the music it serves up.

Why it matters: Aside from being a little weird and invasive, the technology is an example of a future trend in computing: emotion recognition.

What's happening: Music Business Worldwide reported this week that Spotify had filed in February 2018 and been granted this month a patent that uses "speech recognition to determine [users'] 'emotional state, gender, age, or accent' — attributes that can then be used to recommend content."

How it works: According to the patent filing, the company is developing technology that could extract "intonation, stress, rhythm, and the likes of units of speech" that would permit the "emotional state of a speaker to be detected and categorized."

  • Combined with other data from a user's listening history and past requests, appropriate music could then be recommended or played.

What they're saying: Not surprisingly, the internet had fun with this one.

The catch: Technology companies often file patents for innovations that are never used in their products, and a company spokesperson told Pitchfork, "We don't have any news to share at this time."

What's next: Whether or not this capability ever makes it into Spotify, companies are increasingly exploring technology that purports to recognize emotional states through voice tone.

  • Amazon's new Halo fitness tracker analyzes users' vocal tone to evaluate how they're coming off to other people.
  • But there are concerns that emotion recognition could be misused — a report released this week from a U.K. human rights group identified dozens of companies in China using the technology, including some working with the police.

The bottom line: I'm a Spotify user, but the company wouldn't need to read my tone to serve up emotionally appropriate music.

  • Happy? The National. Sad? The National. A bit phlegmy? The National.

Go deeper

U.S. wins gold in men's 4x100-meter medley relay

USA's Ryan Murphy (L) and USA's Caeleb Dressel celebrate winning the final of the men's 4x100m medley relay swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo on Sunday. Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Team USA win the gold medal in the men's 4x100-meter medley relay, setting a new world record in the process on Sunday morning local time.

Driving the news: American Caeleb Dressel won his fifth Tokyo Games gold medal during the event.

2 hours ago - Sports

U.S. swimmer Caeleb Dressel wins 50-meter freestyle final, sets new Olympic record

Caeleb Dressel during the men's 100m butterfly final at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Xavier Laine/Getty Images

American swimmer Caeleb Dressel won gold and set an Olympic record in the men's 50-meter freestyle on Saturday, beating his own world record that he set in 2020.

Details: Dressel didn't take a breath while in the pool to win the race in 21.07 seconds. France's Florent Manaudou won the silver medal, and Brazil’s Bruno Fratus bagged the bronze.

3 hours ago - Health

Florida records most new daily COVID cases in state since pandemic began

Nurses bring a portable x-ray machine to a treatment tent outside the emergency department at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, set up to serve as an overflow area as the number of COVID-19 infections surges throughout Brevard County. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida reported 21,683 new COVID-19 cases — the most in the state in a single day since the pandemic began, per data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday.

The big picture: Florida is now the U.S. coronavirus epicenter, with the Delta variant driving a surge, Axios Tampa Bay's Ben Montgomery notes.