Brand new celebrity voices are coming to Amazon’s Alexa. At its now annual fall hardware event in Seattle, Amazon announced that soon Alexa users will be able to use the voice assistant voiced by popular celebrities – same as how Google does with the Google Assistant. But while a celebrity voiced Google Assistant is free for users, Amazon will charge $0.99 (roughly Rs 70) for those looking to get a custom-made skill for Alexa – that will bring the ability to its voice assistant and consequently to a host of Echo devices.
Amazon doesn’t have a long list to boast about but the one celebrity it is getting on-board as of right now is enough to warrant great excitement – Pulp Fiction star Samuel L Jackson. There will be others – but Amazon isn’t telling more. Here’s another thing that should get you excited. Amazon will allow Alexa users to choose whether they want a version of Samuel L Jackson that swears or not. That’s right – you’ll know the rest of that dialogue if you’ve seen Pulp Fiction.
Celebrity voices aren’t new to voice assistants. In fact, one can say that it is only playing catch up with Google now. The Google Assistant got it last year – including the voice of R&B singer and songwriter John Legend. The feature is available in India too. But looks like Amazon isn’t bringing its own take on a celebrity-voiced Alexa to India anytime soon.
The technology underneath will be similar though. Just like Google, Amazon will be offering a "neural text-to-speech" engine that mimics celebrities' voices basis of recordings provided by celebrities who come on-board. It would be interesting to see who else is coming on-board next after Samuel L Jackson.
There were more software-related announcements alongside celebrity voices for Alexa, including multilingual support and auto-delete Alexa voice recordings for users in India. This was in addition to a slew of hardware - including the Echo third generation and Echo Dot with clock, and what is its most premium high-end smart speaker to date, aka the Echo Studio.
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