Ask “Alexa, what’s the latest?” and you will hear a new professional newscaster voice
What is Alexa?
Alexa is a virtual personal assistant designed to compete with the likes of Apple's Siri, Google Now, and others. Alexa, which was designed by Amazon's secretive Lab126, can listen to your voice commands and respond with contextual responses to help you get the job done. Alexa can help you listen to tracks on Spotify, create to-do lists, shop, and even control your smart home products, like Google's Nest thermostat or the Philips Hue.
Why is Alexa in news?
While Amazon is continually updating Alexa's intelligence to overcome some challenges this time Alexa will now be able to read out the news in a much more natural, human-like way by selectively emphasizing certain words in a sentence in the same way a real newscaster would.
Neutral Text-To-Speech (NTTS) is the technology used behind this which relies on deep learning to create the speech signal. The AI-based system learns to both intonate more effectively and emphasize the right words in a sentence. This not only leads to more natural-sounding responses but can adapt to a given context.
Amazon has previously experimented with different Alexa voices, such as a whisper mode, but this machine learning method has the potential to quickly train Alexa to speak in a variety of different styles. It took just a few hours of data to train Alexa to speak like a newscaster, Amazon says, suggesting that more voices are a very real possibility.
With AI gaining popularity, it will be great to see what more can Alexa do in days to come.