As the voice assistant war rages on, Amazon is looking to take a lead over Siri and Assistant with its latest enhancement to Alexa. The lovely digital companion is now being updated with the ability to sound like a professional newscaster. Backed by new text-to-speech technology, Alexa now sounds more natural than ever. Head below for all of the details and to hear the difference for yourself.
Alexa’s latest update is a little different than the updates we usually see. To close out 2018, Amazon bolstered its voice assistant’s ability to command your home security system. But rather than add new functionality into the mix, Amazon is leveraging new text-to-speech technology to enhance the way Alexa can read news flashes.
Amazon first announced that it would be investing in a more natural-sounding voice for its assistant back in November. In nearly two months since then, the company has refined the technology which has begun rolling out to Echo devices.
Now when you ask Alexa “What’s the latest?”, your smart speaker will switch over to a new voice that imitates a professional newscaster. The voice seemingly knows which words or phrases to emphasize, which ultimately results in a more realistic delivery of the news. But you don’t have to take Amazon’s word for it; you can listen for yourself below:
Amazon is also using the same text-to-speech enhancements to improve other aspects of the voice assistant. Right now, reading information from Wikipedia will get the same treatment as the Alexa news broadcast.
This won’t be the first time that Amazon has attempted to make Alexa more human-like. In October of last year Echo devices were imbued with the ability to know when you whispered to the smart speaker and reply at a lower volume. Amazon says that it only took a few hours of data to train Alexa, opening the door to the possibility of new voices the future.
Because Amazon is taking advantage of neural network-based text-to-speech, actually teaching Alexa to learn these voices is pretty trivial. The assistant learns from examples it’s shown, or in this case, played. That means in the future we could get a variety of different voices that simulate anything from weathermen to professional chefs and more.
It’ll be interesting to see where Amazon goes with this next. Having a more personable voice assistant is definitely going to give the company an edge of the competition.
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