Alexa is getting a newscaster voice in latest update. What that means is that you can now change the assistant’s speaking style. Customers in the US will be able to ask Alexa “what’s the latest?” to hear the day’s news, while the assistant will respond by using a voice similar to that of a professional newscaster to deliver news.
“Just the way humans vary their way of speaking based on the situation, our new TTS technology enables Alexa to deliver the day’s news by adapting a different speaking style as compared to how she would sound when, for example, providing information from Wikipedia,” Amazon said in a blog post.
The voice knows exact words to place emphasis on for more realistic delivery of the news, Amazon explains per TechCrunch. This became possible after Amazon took advantage of recent developments it made with Neural TTS technology. The technology delivers a more natural-sounding voice, which enables Alexa to adapt her speaking style based on the context of a user’s request.
Amazon explains that NTTS produced speech with better intonation, which emphasizes the right words in a sentence in the case of the newscaster voice. The company adds that its scientists used an approach called direct waveform modelling that applies deep learning to produce speech signal.
“The ability to teach Alexa to adapt her speaking style based on the context of the customer’s request opens the possibility to deliver new and delightful experiences that were previously unthinkable,” said Andrew Breen, senior manager with the TTS Research team at Amazon, in a blog post. “We’re thrilled that our customers will get to listen to news and Wikipedia information from Alexa in this new way.”
In 2018, Amazon added a new way to create Alexa skills—and no coding skills needed. You will be able to customize diverse questions along with personal answers as well as responses. It is all happening at Alexa Skill Blueprint where the ecommerce behemoth has made it easy for you to create either a skill or question/answer that will run on your Alexa device.
The skill could take any form including a custom joke response to an Alexa question like “who’s the best dad in the world,” and loads of others. Amazon is giving you a smooth start by providing a set of templates to let you create all the skills and custom question/responses. The templates are custom questions and answers, responses designed for house guests, jokes, short stories, and trivia games.
“You don’t need experience building skills or coding to get started, says Steve Rabuchin, Amazon Alexa VP per The Verge. “My family created our own jokes skill in a matter of minutes.”