Amazon widens Alexa AI assistant’s repertoire

Amazon Echo and Alexa
Amazon is getting ready to expand the range of features available in third-party skills for its Alexa AI voice assistant. (Amazon via YouTube)

G’day, Alexa: Amazon’s digital voice assistant is getting an Australian accent for its Down Under debut this week, but there’s more in store for users around the world.

Thanks to SSML, or speech synthesis markup language, Alexa developers can already make an Amazon Echo or other voice-controlled device whisper, or speak faster or slower, or speak with a super-cheery voice. And Alexa’s users can change her speaking style to British English, or German, or Japanese.

Like Google’s AI assistant, Alexa can now associate voices with specific people: Users can follow the instructions in the Alexa mobile app to train devices so that they distinguish your voice from others.

Outside developers will be getting access to that feature, known as the Your Voice API. That means voice identification could soon be popping up in third-party skills, said Nikko Strom, a senior principal scientist at Amazon and founding member of the Alexa team.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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