Amazon makes Alexa sound more 'professional' and human-like when delivering the news

Amazon makes Alexa sound more 'professional' and human-like when delivering the news
Amazon and Google have done an equally great job of improving the capabilities and expanding the availability of their respective digital assistants over the past year or so, but one of the biggest challenges both companies still face in their efforts to drive AI adoption is perfecting natural speech technology.

While Alexa can do everything from setting reminders and running multiple connected tasks with the new Routines feature to powering hands-free Skype calls and even respond to whispered commands in a similarly discreet manner, the way your requests are typically answered might not sound very natural.

But as announced a couple of months back, Amazon has been hard at work on making Alexa feel more human-like, with the newscaster speaking style now enabled in the US. What this does is basically make the voice assistant sound like a professional, real-life newscaster... kind of.

In all honesty, the audio samples provided to demonstrate the before and after differences in Alexa’s intonation are not mind-blowing. The upgrade is obvious, but you’ll still get your news from a robot, which is now slightly more aware of what words and phrases to emphasize rather than reading everything with no noticeable inflection or cadence.

A neutral speaking style voice is also rolling out in the US, providing Wikipedia information in a (slightly) less robotic way that's similarly unimpressive when compared to Google's arguably greater progress in the same field.

But because odds are this will be merely the first step in achieving a more “natural sounding and higher quality voice” for Alexa, Amazon deserves all the praise in the world. This is a company that gets things done when focusing on a specific, ambitious objective, so we won’t act surprised if Echo users start mistaking Alexa for a flesh and blood personal assistant a couple of years down the line.


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