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Amazon patent points to Alexa phone plan

Alexa phone application
A diagram shows how an Alexa-powered device could link up with a user’s mobile phone. (Amazon Illustration via USPTO)

We’ve known for weeks that Amazon has been working on ways to give Alexa-powered, voice-controlled devices the ability to make and receive phone calls, but a newly published patent details how it could be done.

The patent also shows that the idea has been in the works for more than four years.

The system described in the patent would link an existing cellphone number with the Alexa device, and includes a provision for identifying authorized users by their voices. Alexa could let the user know a call is coming in, and then pick it up and route the call over its speaker when the user gives the go-ahead. Users could also initiate calls via Alexa.

Call charges would be billed through the user’s cell carrier, but once the call is routed through the Alexa device, the cellphone would be left out of the picture. Instead, the Alexa device would send the call to the carrier through a type of connection known as voice over Internet Protocol, or VOIP.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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