Amazon Introduces Emotions For Alexa

Starting today in the United States, users can allow Amazon Alexa to sound emotional. Using Neural TTS technology, Alexa can sound more natural, particularly in the areas of gaming and sports. The voice assistant can sound happy, excited, disappointed or empathetic. With text-to-speech technology, Alexa can also sound more natural when reading the news, more similar to a human TV anchor rather than a voice assistant, according to a blog post from Amazon from developer Catherine Gao. Gao explained some uses of the technology,

“For example, you can have Alexa respond in a happy/excited tone when a customer answers a trivia question correctly or wins a game. Similarly, you can have Alexa respond in a disappointed/empathetic tone when a customer asks for the sports score and their favorite team has lost.”

Alexa and Emotions

Amazon has also introduced speaking styles available for news and music in the United States, as well as two styles for Australia. In blind listening tests, people perceived the news style to be 31% more natural than Alexa’s standard voice, while the music style was 84% more natural, according to the subjects. To start with Alexa’s new speaking options, developers will need to wrap Alexa’s responses with appropriate SSML tags as well as the appropriate level of intensity.

Can Alexa Read Your Emotions?

Although this feature is not currently available, Amazon has filed a patent to make Alexa able to read users’ emotions. On top of the emotional state of the user, the patent would allow Alexa to tell if the user was tired, their gender and age, where their accent is from, and what they’re doing by listening to background noises.

Some critics have worried that Amazon will use this information to play highly targeted voice ads, for example playing an ad for Campbell’s chicken soup if the user sounds sick. While Alexa doesn’t currently have advertisements outside of music streaming services, podcasts, or flash briefings, many brands have optimized their content for branded skills and queries using Alexa.

FAQs

Is there a monthly fee for Alexa?

No, there is no monthly fee to use Alexa.

What is the difference between Echo and Alexa?

An Echo is a smart speaker while Alexa is a voice assistant.

How does Amazon Alexa work?

Alexa listens to voices and can respond accordingly, whether the user is asking to hear music, learn about their schedule for the day, get an update on the weather, or thousands of other skills. Alexa can also control connected devices.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At Degreed.com, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.

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