Amazon is improving the way its Echo speakers talk back in order to make them sound a bit more human.
The company announced on Friday that it has updated Alexa, allowing it to both whisper and bleep out expletives in songs you might listen to. It’s also capable of speaking more slowly and can even things such as emphasize certain words. The updates are part of Amazon’s effort to make Alexa smarter and more human-like.
Amazon also revealed that it’s allowing outside developers to access the voice technology of Alexa in their very own hardware via the “Alexa” command. Prior to this, companies could integrate Alexa, but it often required the physical press of a button in order to prompt the speaker to listen. Now, Amazon is opening its full SDK, which means soon you’ll be able to buy a non-Amazon speaker and ask it the same questions you would ask Amazon’s very own Echo speaker, hands-free.
So, why would Amazon bring these whisper features to the Echo? Well, for one, think about the variance in our voices when we speak or read a story. Sometimes we talk quietly in order to make what we’re saying have more feeling. If we want these AI systems to sound more real, then having them whisper is an obvious next step.