So it begins
Move over Siri, Amazon’s VR Assistant Alexa is becoming more human.
Amazon announced the addition of new speaking skills for Alexa this week, which will give more humanlike qualities to her speaking patterns.
The current version of Alexa already has quite the personality, which developers tried to emulate after seeing the popularity of Apple’s Siri. Certain characteristics that she already possesses, like the ability to joke, sing and answer questions about her, were developed so that users could feel a real connection.
In this way, Alexa will serve as more than just another cool gadget.
However, no matter what the context of the response, it was noted that Alexa’s voice still sounded robotic. Her speech patterns lacked natural pauses and emotion, especially when talking in long phrases.
To resolve this issue, developers added five new tags that users can incorporate as they wish. These speech features include whispering, expletive bleeps, emphasis, sub (which allows Alexa to say something different than what is written) and prosody. The last feature refers to controlling volume, pitch and rate of speech.
While Alexa bleeping out certain language doesn’t seem like such a human thing to do, developers think it is a skill that can be beneficial for some users.
However, there are still limitations to how human Alexa can get. At the end of the day, Amazon still wants Alexa to retain her technological qualities, so they have set limits on the amount of changes her speech can undergo. No need to expect your Alexa to start spontaneously screaming or laughing in the future.
Developers have also introduced “speechcons” in certain countries across the globe. Speechcons refer to words or phrases that Alexa will recognize and make more expressive. For instance, in the US, speechcons include “Aloha,” “Yay,” and “Ahem.” Developers in the UK and Germany are currently working on their own phrases in addition to the new speech changes.The goal of speechcons is to make Alexa’s dialect specific to each region.Click To Tweet
This, in addition to the added human characteristics will create more engaging and personal interactions between Alexa and its users.