Amazon’s Alexa AI can now whisper sweet nothings


In the hope of making Alexa as life-like as possible, Amazon has introduced new updates to its AI assistant’s voice.

Alexa can now whisper, bleep out swear-words, add emphasis to words and even be programmed to say regional-specific phrases.

The update has been rolled out to devices in the US, UK, and Germany.

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Amazon's Alexa can now whisper, bleep out swear-words, add emphasis to words and even be programmed to say regional-specific phrases. Pictured are the Echo and Echo Dot devices that use Alexa 

Amazon's Alexa can now whisper, bleep out swear-words, add emphasis to words and even be programmed to say regional-specific phrases. Pictured are the Echo and Echo Dot devices that use Alexa 

Amazon’s Alexa can now whisper, bleep out swear-words, add emphasis to words and even be programmed to say regional-specific phrases. Pictured are the Echo and Echo Dot devices that use Alexa 

NEW SSML FEATURES 

1. Whispers – Convey a softer dialogue

2. Expletive beeps – Bleep out words

3. Sub –  Makes Alexa say something other than what’s written

4. Emphasis – Changes the rate and volume at which Alexa speaks

5. Prosody – Controls the volume, pitch, and rate of speech 

The changes are to Amazon’s Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) – a standardised markup language that allows developers to control pronunciation, intonation, timing and emotion.

In a blog announcing the update, Liz Myers, a Senior Solutions Architect at Amazon said: ‘SSML support on Alexa allows you to control how Alexa generates speech from your skill’s text responses.

‘You can add pauses, change pronunciation, spell out a word, add short audio snippets, and insert speechcons (special words and phrases) into your skill.

‘These SSML features provide a more natural voice experience.’

Five new SSML tags are included in the update.

Whispers allow Alexa to convey a softer dialog, while expletive bleeps allow the device to bleep out certain words.

Sub allows Alexa to say something other than what’s written, and emphasis changes the rate and volume at which Alexa speaks.

Finally, prosody controls the volume, pitch and rate of speech.

The results are a more lifelike dialogue, rather than a robotic, monotonic voice, which Alexa has previously spoken in.

The changes are to Amazon's Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) – a standardised markup language that allows developers to control pronunciation, intonation, timing and emotion 

The changes are to Amazon's Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) – a standardised markup language that allows developers to control pronunciation, intonation, timing and emotion 

The changes are to Amazon’s Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) – a standardised markup language that allows developers to control pronunciation, intonation, timing and emotion 

Users in the UK and Germany can also now programme Alexa to say regional-specific phrases. 

Dean Bryen, a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web, wrote in a blog: ‘You can now build UK English and German Alexa skills that pronounce common words in a more natural manner. 

‘You can use regionally specific terms such as “Blimey” and “Bob’s your uncle,” in the UK and “Da lachen ja die Hühner” and “Donnerwetter” in Germany.’ 

 



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