Alexa is getting more emotional, with Amazon enabling its virtual assistant to express more emotions. Going forward, Alexa will be able to use different speaking styles, and express both excitement and disappointment, depending on the context.
Virtual Assistants Don’t Have to Sound Robotic
We have got used to hearing virtual assistants speaking with robotic voices. After all, that seemed an obvious starting point for the likes of Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. However, there’s no reason why virtual assistants shouldn’t express more emotions.
So, with that in mind, Amazon is giving Alexa the ability to express emotions and to speak in more naturalistic styles. As outlined in a post on the Alexa Skills Kit Blog, this will “help create a more natural and intuitive voice experience for […] customers.”
Amazon Launches Alexa Emotions and Speaking Styles
Alexa’s new capabilities can be split in two: Alexa Emotions and Speaking Styles.
Alexa can now sound either disappointed or excited, depending on the type of response. These two emotions can also be employed at three different levels of intensity: Low, Medium, and High. And this is made possible by Amazon’s text-to-speech technology.
Amazon cites examples of when an excited or disappointed tone would be appropriate. If a user answers a trivia question correctly, Alexa could adopt an excited tone. Alternatively, she’ll adopt a disappointed tone when reporting that your sports team has lost.
Alexa can also now adopt a couple of different speaking styles, labelled News and Music. News is designed to mimic the style of a news anchor, while Music is designed to mimic the style of a radio DJ. These also use Amazon’s text-to-speech technology.
Both styles change the intonation, emphasis, and pausing to tailor responses to the information being delivered. And in blind tests conducted by Amazon, both new speaking styles were perceived to be more natural than Alexa’s standard voice.
Give Alexa the Smarts to Handle Her Emotions
Amazon is making the new emotions and speaking styles available to developers in the US. There’s also “an Australia-specific news speaking style” available in Australia. The rest of the world is sure to follow, though it may take some time to filter through to users.
While you’re waiting for Alexa to get more emotional, why don’t you help Amazon make Alexa smarter? Amazon has added an element of gamification, which means you can earn points every time Alexa uses an answer you have provided for her.