Everyone’s favorite household helper can now show she’s excited — or disappointed in you. Say goodbye to her classic robotic tone: Amazon announced today that Alexa is going to get a few new features, including different accents, a radio DJ voice, and “happy/excited” or “disappointed/empathetic” emotions to use in response to questions.
The excited tone could be used when you answer a trivia question correctly, according to Amazon. The disappointed tone could work for users who ask for a sports score when their favorite team has lost — or maybe just when Alexa disapproves of your request. Also new to Alexa is an Australian accent.
Amazon’s last update was in January, when they launched a newscaster voice for Alexa’s US customers. Today, they announced that a similar voice can now be used for Alexa to discuss music, which sounds more like a radio DJ.
These voices are called “topic-focused,” and they’re likely the first of many for Alexa. As she starts to read news like a professional newscaster, introduce music like a DJ, and express emotional responses to questions and statements, she’s starting to sound more and more like a person, and less like a robotic AI machine — which she is.
Amazon has experimented before with different Alexa accents and voices, including a whisper mode. But they’re using machine-learning methods now, which can train Alexa to use a certain style, like a newscaster, to emphasize the right words in a sentence, just like a person would.
It’s likely that Alexa will continue to learn different accents and speaking styles. Who knows — maybe in a few years, she’ll be able to imitate you.