Amazon has upgraded Alexa to make the voice assistant sound more emotional. The company has announced new tools for developers which will make Alexa to respond with either a happy/excited or a disappointed/empathetic tone. The new emotional features are currently available in the US and will be rolled out to more countries including India soon.
Amazon built the feature based on a customer feedback survey that revealed overall satisfaction with the voice experience increased by 30 per cent when Alexa responded by emotions. Emotional responses are particularly relevant to skills in the gaming and sports categories.
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Additionally, the company also announced that Alexa can now respond in a speaking style that is suited for a specific type of content such as news and music. These speaking styles are curated text-to-speech voices designed to create a more delightful customer experience for specific content. For instance, the news speaking style makes Alexa’s voice sound similar to what you hear from TV news anchors and radio hosts.
Amazon in a blog post explained that Alexa emotions use Neural TTS (NTTS) technology, a text-to-speech technology that enables more natural sounding speech. For instance, Alexa can now respond in a happy/excited tone when you ask it a trivia question correctly or wins a game. Similarly, you can have Alexa respond in a disappointed/empathetic tone when you ask it for the sports score and your favourite team has lost.
According to a report by market research firm Canalys, Amazon led the smart speaker globally by shipping over 10.4 million smart speakers thanks to the stellar Prime Day performance, which was closely followed by strong back-to-school and off-to-college shopping campaigns, in the third quarter of 2019.
The company recently announced the Echo Flex, a plug-in smart speaker, which can be plugged directly into a standard electrical outlet to access Alexa and other Alexa-compatible smart devices.